Holiday Bliss: Give your home a guest-friendly holiday tune up

Associated Expert

With guests coming from far and wide to celebrate the holidays this year, you have never had a better excuse to make your home more livable. Hey, it's only human to put off fixing that leaky faucet or squeaky stair, but we all want our homes to be perfect when we are playing host. Your guests will greatly appreciate the effort you go through and you'll get the benefit of a nicer home once they leave. Now Janes don't generally need an excuse to jump into DIY action, but since the countdown to the holidays has started, it's time to get moving! Here are a few tips to get you started:

Put Out the Welcome Mat

Creating a great guest room involves more than just cleaning the linens the night before your visitors arrive. It's easy to think that your guests will feel right at home in your house because, well, it's your house! Just because the room has a bed doesn't necessarily make it a good guest room. Homeowners often use their spare bedroom as an office or a gym. Would you really want to spend the night nestled next to a computer or a treadmill? Well, neither do Aunt Sylvia and Uncle Fred!

If this sounds familiar, start by cleaning out as much as your stuff as you possibly can before your guests arrive. Try to make the room less about function and more about comfort. Take big items to the garage and store papers and other important documents away in inexpensive plastic storage containers or neatly in the closet. (Remember, your short-term guests will only need a little space for their clothes).

If you can, try to invest in a few functional furnishings. A daybed makes the transition from full mattress to couch, and an armoire can serve multiple purposes. If you don't have the dough to plunk down (and really, who does with the holidays looming) scour Craig's list, yard sales, and second-hand stores for classic, clean pieces. A little paint or stain can breathe new life into any piece of furniture, regardless of how dilapidated it may look!

Don't forget those creature comforts. A television, a phone, even a computer with internet access will allow your guests to truly feel at home. And clean linens are a must. For less than $20 at most discount stores, you can find high quality sheets and towels. Add a scented candle, fresh flowers or linen spray to give your guests a hotel-like experience.

But I Don't Have A Guest Room!

If your guests are going to shack up on the couch for a bit, be sure that they have a little space to call their own. Clear out a hall closet, give them a drawer in the bathroom, or make room on a bookshelf. There's nothing less inviting for a guest than to have to unpack and repack their suitcase every day.

Privacy is extremely important. If you have a small apartment, be sure that your guest feels that they have a bit of alone time. They should have access to the television and a reading light even after you decide to go to bed. In the morning, it's even more important to be as respectful as possible. If you have children or pets, keep them out of the guest area until they wake. Keep your kids from rifling through your guests personal belongings and allow your guest an appropriate space and time to dress and prep for the day.

Get on those Repairs

It's no secret that your toilet runs constantly or that doorknob jiggles when you go to turn it, but who wants to tackle these mundane repairs? Just because they don't provide the biggest payoff doesn't mean you can ignore these annoyances forever. Besides, once your guests come, you run the risk of having them comment on them. (And everyone has one of those relatives). Then you will be annoyed and embarrassed.

Make a list of all of the things that need looking into and tackle them in order of importance. If you're honest, you will probably have quite a lengthy list, so don't expect to get to all of the projects. Be realistic about what you can get done and set a timeline. Once they are complete, you will feel more confident about the way your home looks and feels. To make sure you at least get something done, order them from easiest to hardest rather than feeling overwhelmed by the hardest task being project number one.

Cleanliness Speaks Volumes

No matter how you live the rest of the year, the one thing you want to be sure of is that your house is clean before your guests arrive. You also want to be sure that it stays as clean as possible during their visit. This will not only make your guests feel more comfortable during their stay, but will keep the family rumor mill down to a minimum. Think about how many of your relatives talked to you about the way a certain member of the family lives!

The Outside Speaks, Too!

How does the front of your home look? Are there dead weeds littering the driveway? Is it dark and depressing? There are a number of small projects that you can do in the course of a weekend to spruce up the front yard. From installing outdoor lighting kits, building a walkway, planting a small flower bed, or even painting the front of the house, your guests will feel more at home and you'll be proud to show off the results of your hard work.

Accept That Things Will Break

Look, if your grandmother's china is something that is very important to you, only serve Thanksgiving dinner on it if you can bear the thought of a piece or two getting misplaced or broken. There's no sense in having a meltdown over a broken plate in front of the one group of people that will remember it for every year thereafter. If it's something that seems stressful just thinking about it, then consider using the not-so-nice tableware and set the scene with beautiful linens and cutlery. Trust us, nobody will care. Everyone is really there for the company and the food anyway!

Prepare Properly

With guests in town, remember to be realistic. Choose your home improvement projects wisely and realistically. If you don't think you can get a particular project done well before the arrival of your guests, then don't start it. There's nothing worse than staying in a room that's 'half-done."

That said, we all want our homes to look absolutely perfect, but resist the urge to splurge on expensive furniture, rugs, or other décor in anticipation of your guests arriving. With children comes horseplay, spilled drinks and dirt, so save yourself the headache of worrying about your most important personal items. The last thing you want to be is the kind of host who screams over footprints on the carpet. Assume that your guests will put their feet on the furniture, and plan accordingly! You can always hire a cleaning crew for those tornado-like relatives.

The most important thing to remember with all of this is to be sure not to lose sight of what the holidays are really about-spending time with your family and friends. By getting some minor projects out of the way and preparing accordingly, you will be able to let yourself relax and enjoy the inner bliss this time of the year can bring. Happy Holidays!

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