10 Tips to Prepare Your Home for Holiday Guests

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The holidays are a time of joy, family gatherings, and celebrations. Unfortunately, they can also be a time filled with stress for many family hosts, hostesses, and holiday planners. There are ways to relieve a lot of the stress associated with this time of year. 

Below we discuss ten tips to prepare your home for holiday guests so that you don’t find yourself caught off guard as the festivities sneak up on you.

1. Make a list (or two)

Just like Santa Claus and his naughty and nice list, making lists can be a lifesaver when it comes to the holidays. Either on your phone or even posted on your refrigerator, organizing what needs to be done in written form can help you ensure tasks are completed and give you a sense of accomplishment when you get to cross something out. 

On these lists, set due dates for yourself to keep from procrastinating. If you treat these dates as deadlines, like you would at work, you are less likely to push things off to the last minute. 

Be sure to add them to your personal and public calendar so that others can see these specific dates and times, and don’t double book over them. You also get the added benefit of automatic reminders to give you a heads up or an escape plan for a dreaded phone call!

2. Delegate tasks

It takes a village. Yes, this may originally have been a quote about raising children, but it is pretty applicable to surviving the holidays. Don’t feel the need to take on everything yourself. 

  • Call a family meeting
  • Start a group text
  • Set up a virtual Zoom chat

Bring everyone else into the mix and allow them to help you when preparing your home for the holidays. This could mean delegating some cleaning tasks, having everyone bring a dish to a dinner party or potluck lunch, or having someone be in charge of wrapping gifts. 

Not only will you be prepared and feel less stressed, but it may also help everyone get into the holiday spirit a bit more.

3. Get an early start

This may seem self-explanatory, but so many people wait until the last minute to get their homes prepared for holiday guests. By starting earlier, you will have time to get more accomplished and enjoy the holiday season. 

Make your shopping lists earlier and get shopping done that you can, stocking up on pantry items that will make future shopping trips less of a load. 

Have decorating finished so that you can focus on finishing touches and do any deep cleaning before you even get one box of decorations out. You can even prep guest rooms with essentials like towels, linens, etc., so that it is one less thing to worry about.

4. Politely Require an RSVP

Holidays take work if you are the host. To seem like an easy, breezy non-stressed host or hostess, you may be inclined to tell people it’s no big deal if they bring a guest or decide to show up last-minute or whenever they’d like. Do everything you can to avoid this.

You spend time, money, and effort to host a party, dinner, or overnight guests. Just as with events like weddings or corporate parties, think about sending out evites, or if you are feeling festive and fancy, send out paper invitations. 

Ask for RSVPs by either text or email by a specific date. You would be surprised how many people will appreciate the formal invitation. Holidays are a hectic time of year for everyone. They will have something physical to place on their fridge, bulletin board, or download to their calendars.

That allows them not to forget and plan their attendance at various parties and dinners for the season and makes for a great icebreaker conversation!

5. Avoid creating a “catch-all” room

It would be easy to call this a rookie mistake, but most people are guilty of doing this, even seasoned holiday pros. This tip goes along with getting an early start. 

When cleaning and decorating, do not throw everything that you don’t want your guests to see or take the time to deal with into one room and close the door. 

First, this creates stress on you knowing everything has been thrown into that room to be dealt with later. Second, now you have created a space you don’t want your guests to see. 

This means that, of course, someone will likely open that door or stumble into that space. Take an extra little bit of time preparing your house to put things where they belong. That way, the dreaded “catch-all” room doesn’t exist for you to stress over and deal with later. 

A bonus is that if you do end up needing extra guest space when someone unexpectedly shows up, you aren’t scrambling to clean this room or set them up on the couch after one too many egg nogs.

6. Utilize shopping services

Meals are a huge part of holiday celebrations. Prepping, cooking, cleanup, it all takes a lot of time and can be stressful. 

One easy way to help make sure you are prepared for guests at your house this holiday is using grocery shopping services, like Instacart. Many stores offer these services. 

You can simply drive to a designated area when your order is ready, and they place all your groceries right in your trunk. Even better, for a nominal fee, you can have your groceries delivered in most areas straight to your door. 

The time and hassle you save shopping can be a huge weight lifted off your shoulders. Let someone else do the shopping so you can move on to other things on your to-do list. If you haven’t ever used these services, trust me, they will change your life. You may never want to step into a grocery store again.

7. Make meal planning your friend

Speaking of grocery shopping for holiday meals, let’s talk about meal planning. Meal planning is a simple and easy way to relieve stress when preparing your house for the holidays. It will also help you not spend more than needed on food and avoid wasting food. 

Before making your grocery list, break down each day you have guests into meals that will be served. Don’t forget to add when everyone may want to snack, like during football games or movies. 

If you break down each day into breakfast, lunch, dinner, and possible snacks, you can see what you need for groceries and when you can utilize leftovers and ingredients used for more than one meal. 

Less stress, less waste, and less money spent, it’s a triple win for you!

8. Stock up on essentials

No one wants to draw the short straw and have to leave a party to go pick up ice, toilet paper, or other essentials during a holiday celebration. This makes lists even more critical but is also a good reason to stock up on essentials, especially those that will not go to waste. 

Make sure to have plenty of bagged ice available. Heck, if you live in a climate where it will be cold, you can even store beverages out in the snow. 

Keep your linen closet full of soaps, toilet paper, and similar items. This way, no one needs to run out for anything, and you can breathe easy knowing you are fully prepared. And as a side tip, be sure that you keep your extra toiletries in a prominent location.

9. Make plans for pets

If you are a pet owner, you most likely treat your dogs, cats, and other animal companions like family. The holidays can be a stressful time of year for them, and you may have friends and family with allergies or fears.

Instead of being stuck with a last-minute panic about your dog or cat when someone tells you their child has a fear or has an allergy, make sure you have plans for your pet and have talked to your guests about your pets prior. Consider mentioning this in your invitations. 

If you have a friend who can watch them for an evening or a trusted vet or boarding service or sitter, you can rely on them to take good care of your furry loved one until your celebration is over and guests have left. 

Some dogs and cats even feel anxious with large groups of people, which can cause unneeded stress. You don’t want to be the host with a barking dog or meowing cat that had to be put in a guest room or outside. That’s not fair to the animal, you, or your guests.

10. Give up the idea of “Perfect.”

Giving up the idea of “Perfect” is a part tip, part mantra. 

The holidays are a time for family and friends to get together. After the past few years and all the uncertainty, so many people are just happy to be able to celebrate in person, and they do not care if your home is perfect. 

They are most likely not to think about all the little things you might. So stop stressing about things being perfect or rushing around at the last minute. Your guests will not care if all your silverware or glasses match or if your baseboards have been scrubbed (well, maybe your mother-in-law might). 

Your guests are going to be so grateful that you’ve opened up your home and welcomed them. So don’t worry about perfection. They aren’t.

Get ahead of your holiday guests

The holidays should be a time of fun and laughter with family, friends, colleagues, and those we love. Do not let them sneak up on you and cause stress that a little bit of planning and preparation can alleviate. 

By following the above ten tips to prepare your home for holiday guests, you can be assured of having a happy holiday season indeed! 

For more information on home cleaning that may help you during the holidays, you can check out how to clean a wood cutting board, caring for your cast iron cookware, and other helpful cleaning tips and tricks.