Editor's note: Whether you're hosting the whole family for the holidays or just welcoming a solo weekend guest, entertaining at home can be the perfect chance to make happy memories with those you love. With our expert advice, opening your home to friends and relatives will be a snap. Look for home entertaining tips every day this week on Porchlight.
Hosting a holiday gathering can be a lot of fun, but perhaps a bit intimidating, too. You want your house to look its best, but now isn’t the time to undertake any major updates.
Chances are, you’re busy enough just preparing for the event. So, focus on just the areas of your house where your guests will spend time.
Whether you’re a first-time party host with a few jitters, or an old pro looking for some new ideas, these tips will help you ensure that your home is ready for any gathering.
Light the way
The sun sets early this time of year, so it’s important to make sure the entrance to your home is clean and well-lit.
If you have a large front yard, try to focus on just the front entryway and the path leading up to it. Install porch lights, or replace the bulbs on existing lighting. Cut back any shrubbery that is obstructing the walkway.
On the day of your party, open the blinds on the front windows so your guests can see into your warm, festive-looking home as they approach. It’s a great way to create a sense of welcoming anticipation.
Pro tip: The easiest possible way to create instant lighting for walkways and paths is with the solar lights that you just stick into the ground. The sun does the rest of the work!
Take care of the bottom line
Our mothers used to say this, and it’s true: If your floors are spotless, they make your whole house look cleaner.
Even if you’re unable to do an in-depth house cleaning before your gathering, you will certainly want to make sure that all floors have been cleaned before that first guest steps over the threshold.
Pro tip: If you have carpeting, clean the carpets a minimum of three days ahead of your affair to make sure they have dried fully.
Brighten up your bathroom
If you’re bothered by grimy-looking grout in your bathroom, try this easy, inexpensive, and non-toxic method to get rid of it nearly instantly: Just spray on some full-strength hydrogen peroxide, let it sit for 10 minutes, and then wipe clean. That's it!
Next, add some flowers, holiday decorations, or pictures on the wall to further spiff up your powder room, and it will be ready for your guests.
Pro tip: Instantly de-clog a slow-moving sink drain with a Zip-It. This inexpensive tool looks like a giant zip-tie. You just work it down into the drain to pull up hair clogs - all the other gunky stuff will come up with it.
Tune up kitchen appliances
Your kitchen appliances will be the workhorses of your holiday party, whether you’re hosting a full family dinner or a cocktail party. You want them to be fully functioning and ready for action.
Make sure all stove burners are working. Now’s the time to clean the oven if you haven't done that for a while.
Clean out the refrigerator, and make sure that both the fridge and freezer are running at their optimal temperatures.
Make sure your dishwasher is in good working order. You can clean it easily with a dishwasher cleaner that you run through a cycle.
Pro tip: Sharp knives will make easy work of preparing the big meal. Make sure all your kitchen knives are newly sharpened, and also check the batteries in your electric carving knife, if you have one.
Make your space kid-friendly
If you make your home welcoming for children, you will ensure that their parents have a great time as well.
If you happen to have kids that are the same ages as your young guests, you’re in luck. But if not, consider adding some considerate touches that will make parents more comfortable, and alleviate kid boredom.
Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Turn a spare room or an upstairs bedroom into a private nursing/changing area for a new mom.
- Toddlers and younger children will want to be near their parents, so a good idea for them is to set up a corner of your living or dining room with toys, books, a tablet for watching cartoons, and some comfy pillows or throws.
- One of our favorite strategies for older kids is to turn the dessert course into an activity. For instance, you could bake a huge batch of sugar cookies in holiday shapes, and then put out different colors of icing to let kids (and adults) go to town with decorating their own cookies.
Pro tip: If you don't already have children, or if yours are older, don't forget to kid-proof your space. Put away anything expensive, breakable, or unstable. Do some baby-proofing, if necessary. This way you and the parents can relax and not have to worry about safety hazards.
Hopefully these ideas will take some of the worry out of holiday entertaining, and ensure that you and your guests can relax and enjoy each other's company this season.
Want more DIY tips? Watch more of See Jane Drill's home improvement videos.