holiday guests

Nothing says “welcome” more than a well-made bed, like this one at the Dolphin Fine Linens.

Whether you’re expecting the in-laws for an overnight stay or hosting the entire family for Thanksgiving, it’s never too early to start thinking about your guests’ experience. Here are tips to help you get organized for the 2021 holidays. 

1. Give yourself time to clean.

You likely will rank your kitchen high on the list of rooms that need cleaning. But take caution when tackling the appliance that — fingers crossed — will roast your holiday ham to perfection. Metro Appliances and More Sales Manager Tarah Duncan says a common mistake people make is cleaning their oven using the self-cleaning cycle the day before visitors arrive. 

“With an older appliance, the self-clean cycle can damage the electronic control panel,” she reveals. “Servicers are very busy and have long lead times before the holidays, so repairs cannot usually be made (in time).” 

If your oven is in need of a cleaning, Duncan recommends a simple wipe down with Easy Off for self-cleaning ovens.

For all other general cleaning and organizing projects, Britt Greenwood, owner of Blue Jay Cleaning Services, says it’s best to start at least a week before your company’s visit. 

“No one wants to be stressed right before guests come,” she says. “But if cleaning yourself, sometimes the pressure is an excellent motivator. Instead of waiting until the last minute, shift that motivation to a week before guests arrive.” Any disinfecting or final touch-ups should be done the day the guest arrives.

She also suggests wrangling others in the household to help and tackling a little bit around the house each day. 

2. Don’t wait to update.

Maybe you’ve considered painting the guest bathroom a fresh color, replacing the bed pillows or reupholstering that loveseat with a bright new fabric. If updates are on your to-do list, Kitina Bartovick, owner of the Dolphin Fine Linens, says today is the day to take action. 

“If you are thinking to update, replace or reupholster anything at this time to be ready for the holidays, you need to start now,” she says. “Everyone is backed up (with orders) but ready to help in any way they can.”

Most of us likely have experienced shipping delays thanks to supply-chain disruptions brought on by the pandemic. Bartovick says we should expect this to continue, especially as we approach the holiday season. 

3. Keep it simple.

Sometimes the little things make a big difference. Bartovick recommends a modest duvet cover, coverlet and single decorative pillow to create a welcoming and peaceful look in the space where your guests will sleep. And nothing says, “relax,” like an inviting bed topped with soft linens and plush pillows.

“You don’t need a lot of decorative pillows, as the guest never knows where to put them,” she says. “And (having fewer)makes it easier for them to dress the bed each day.”

Bartovick also proposes adding a basket of light snacks — like granola bars, seasonal fruit and chocolate — to the nightstand and an extra blanket or throw at the foot of the bed for cooler nights. These small touches will make your guests feel right at home.

4. Stock extra.

A great way to make visitors feel at ease as they begin to gather again is keeping hand sanitizer in strategic places, like the entryway to the home and the kitchen counter. Greenwood says access to something like Lysol wipes in the guest bathroom and the kitchen makes for easy cleanup and disinfecting on the guest’s behalf.

In addition to cleaning supplies, Bartovick advises stocking extra toilet paper in the guest bathroom and leaving it in a convenient location, so holidaymakers don’t have the awkward task of asking you for it. “To really make guests feel pampered, provide a luxurious guest robe and slippers,” she adds. “Make available moisturizing soaps, hand creams and a candle to add a sense of comfort and tranquility.”

5. Don’t overthink it.

Greenwood says if you feel peace in your space, chances are your guests will, too.

“I’ve gone into friend’s homes so clean I was afraid to drop a crumb,” she says. “I have also seen the look of panic on the host’s face when a guest does make a little mess. Let’s try not to be that person and be in the moment with our friends and family.”

Similarly, Bartovick emphasizes just being yourself; it’s the safest way to ensure your guests can be themselves, too. Really mean it when you say, “Make yourself at home.”

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