The holidays are a beautiful time of year, yet can prove to be stressful as you prepare your home for out-of-town guests, friends and family. As the holiday season is fast approaching, here are some quick, and simple ways you can get your home ready for visitors this holiday season.

Make it homey, warm and cozy

If nothing else, you want your guests to feel comfortable and at home during your celebrations. This can be as easy as filling your space with fluffy blankets and oversized pillows so your guests can lounge about wherever they please in comfort: on the floor, up against a couch or even leaning on the walls. If you choose the right colors, blankets and pillows can also add the extra splash of holiday decoration in any room. Have guests staying overnight? Then it is a good time to make sure their sleeping area is filled with snuggly, warm bedding as well.

Candles are also an easy, inexpensive way to create a cozy atmosphere. Not only do candles provide additional soft, warm lighting, but if you select the right type and scent, they can also set a mood – relaxing, festive, fun or anything you’d like. Your guests don’t expect perfection, but they’ll certainly have a better visit in a warm, welcoming space that is appointed just right for holiday cheer. Alternatively, with fire safety in mind, you might want to consider flameless candles to add a cozy touch without the fire hazard. 

Clean and decorate

If you’re short on time like most of us, focus your cleaning efforts on main hosting areas when you are having a holiday gathering. The living room, dining room, kitchen, guest bathroom and entryway are usually the areas in your home that will get the most foot traffic from your guests. You’ll feel more confident if they are in tip-top condition – clean and organized! For example, in the entryway, you can consider creating a nicely organized spot for your guests’ shoes, purses, coats and keys. This fine detailing will prevent any tripping hazards, as well as any items grabbed by mistake when your guests depart.

And what would the holidays be without the decorations? Even though it is easy to go overboard with holiday cheer, there is no need to overdo it when decorating. Simple decorations can go a long way for any host, especially if you don’t have the time or budget to go all out, Clark Griswold style. You can keep it subtle with just a decorative holiday centerpiece or small detailed pieces such as a holiday-style soap pump in the bathroom. Replace the extra mail on the hall table and place a nice candle or another decorative piece in that spot. Guests enjoy discovering small decorative pieces which can quickly and easily spruce up any space.

Multi-purpose, flexible furnishings

Hosting for any group size, you always want to be sure you have enough seating for your guests. Whether it is a bench, dining chairs, poufs, or couches, additional seating that is easily movable is ideal for holiday gatherings. Plan ahead for meal time by bringing in the patio or office furniture if your dining table won’t accommodate all the guests. Cover with a festive tablecloth to create extra seating.

If guests are staying the night, there are many new, affordable options available for flexible furnishings. When furnishing your space, choose chairs, futons, and couches that convert into beds if you know you will have overnight company in the future. Air beds are also a popular option and have improved greatly in comfort and set-up ease in the last few years. Plus, they are easy to store year-round in a closet. Alternatively, raid the garage for your camping gear and pull out a sleeping pad or two. Your guests won’t mind!

Show time

Right before your guests arrive, rather than spraying air freshener, simply make a stovetop potpourri that will fill your home with amazing holiday smells. Since the pot full of herbs, spices, and fruit of your liking will sit on the stove, simmering all evening long, it will keep your home smelling fresh and homey. Your guests will be asking you about the recipe to achieve the amazing smell.

Have your meal or hors d’oeuvres as prepared as possible before your guests arrive, so you aren’t scrambling around the kitchen when you should be greeting and visiting with your loved ones. If you have multiple things that need to go in the oven, make a schedule based on temperature and cook time to ensure everything is perfectly done on time. Also, have a wide selection of drinks readily available so you can offer a libation right when guests arrive. This way, when it is show time, you are ready to be the host with the most.

The holidays are a time of joy. Take the stress out of hosting guests in your home by planning ahead and keeping it simple. Although Pinterest and Martha Stewart may tell you otherwise, your guests aren’t expecting a magazine-photo-shoot-ready space for their celebrations. A little can go a long way in welcoming your guests, making them feel right at home, and getting them ready to share the happiness of the season with you, their host.

Related Reading for You: