Think back to years past and answer this question. Were you able to enjoy hosting your friends and family for the holidays, or did you endure just another season of stress and frustration? Were there times when you secretly wished for it to be over before it began? I think that a lot of us have had similar moments at one time or another.
Having company for the holidays should be a joyous and happy occasion, yet all too often creates added stress for the host/hostess. This year, why not try something different? Start planning now to keep from feeling overwhelmed.
Begin by creating your guest list and extend the invitations.
Next, create a list of every thing that needs to be organized and tended to before the celebration.
Create your menu, from which you will be able to build your grocery lists.
Cut down on last minute shopping and purchase non-perishable items well in advance, leaving only a small list of fresh produce to purchase the day before the party.
Prioritize your to-do's by scheduling tasks that can be done well ahead of time. Then start chipping away slowly, weeks prior, to keep from feeling overwhelmed.
Prepping for overnight guests
Guest rooms often become the dumping ground for excess clutter in the home. If you are hosting overnight guests, make sure to de-clutter and tidy up things early, getting everything set up and ready. If your child’s bedroom doubles as your guest room, you may take this opportunity to do a little purging, and clear the room of clutter. Utilize under-the-bed storage for seldom-used items, or remove bulky toys temporarily to give your guests a relaxing environment. De-clutter the closet and leave a small space for hanging clothes. (Don’t forget to provide appropriately sized hangers for adults).
Bathrooms are another area that may need a little attention when having overnight guests. Assess the condition of your guest towels and straighten up under the sink, if needed. You may want to have your children share your bathroom during the visit. This allows some privacy for your guests and will keep kids clutter off the bath counters.
Tending to the rest of the home
Evaluate the rooms, where you will be entertaining. Could they use a little de-cluttering? If so, take 15-30 minutes every few days and tackle one area at a time. Hall closets should be straightened as well – will you have enough space for your guest’s coats? Matching (wooden) hangers always add a nice touch.
In the home stretch
A few days before the party, address any surface clutter on counters, cabinets, and tables. Remove any toys, papers, or other items that don’t belong in your kitchen or living spaces. Avoid stashing items temporarily in baskets or totes, to deal with "later" – this is how cluttered spaces often get started. Take time now and put items where they belong.
Set the dining table the day before you entertain, and do any prep work that can be done ahead of time. This will help cut down your workload on the day of the party.
To add a little warmth and a special touch, I love to add fresh flowers throughout the home – especially in the guest room.
Being well-organized will help relieve some of the stress and anxiety while entertaining. Starting early and working down your list slowly will let you enjoy your company, as well as the holiday season.