Home for the holidays
Our best tips to prepare your home for holiday guests
Story by Michaela Satterfield
Holidays in the Lowcountry are a time of togetherness. Families reunite. Old friends drop by. Calendars are filled with dinners and parties. Even the neighbors make visits. All of this means two things – full hearts and even fuller houses. Get your Lowcountry hospitality ready. The holidays may be the most wonderful time of the year, but they can also be the most stressful. Doorways get filled with shoes, fridges get stocked with leftovers, and the guest room gets piled with luggage. Some visitors may make your home a mess, and others may put it under a microscope. With some planning and preparation, you and your home can be ready for either. A little thinking ahead is all it takes to manage the stress so you can sit by the fire or around the table to take in the moment when the holidays come. Follow these tips so you can focus on what really matters – togetherness.
First things first
Don’t forget the welcome mat on the front porch so guests will clean their shoes before entering. Aside from the greeting on the welcome mat, the entryway is where first impressions are made. Have a game plan for where you want guests to place coats and purses. Coat racks, coat closets or the room down the hall will all work. For better or worse, the way a house smells often leaves an impression that lasts long after guests leave. Don’t leave this to chance. Candles can create lasting memories of pleasant smells and a cozy atmosphere, too. Additionally, you could try an essential-oil diffuser or wall plug-ins. Preparing your home for the holidays is in the details.
Check furniture for nicks and dings, then get a touch-up kit with markers in a variety of shades to fix them. If there are cracks, try using crayon wax to fill them in. An essential room to touch up is the bathroom, as it’s one room your guests will inevitably see. Make sure it is clean and organized. Consider stocking the bathroom with extra soap, tissues or anything else your guests may need. There’s nothing worse than being caught without toilet paper when visiting someone. Plan accordingly to avoid this situation. Finally, don’t forget the holiday décor. Whatever your style may be, this is where you can let your creativity shine.
Getting the dinner party started
Put on some background music to ease any awkward silences as the party gets going. Use name cards at the table to take away the stress of your guests having to figure out where they will sit. No one will know if you use some strategy to plan this. Place people you know will enjoy talking next to each other, and consider separating anyone known to butt heads – or start food fights, if your holiday functions get particularly interesting. In case the small talk runs too long, place food in chafing dishes to keep it hot all night. Setting the dinner up buffet-style is the easiest way to make sure everyone gets just the right amount of all their favorite dishes. Leftovers are one of the best parts of the holidays – or worst, if you like to keep a clean fridge. Set up a leftover station so your guests can help out. Stock up on inexpensive plasticware or disposable containers for them to take home. Your guests will be happy to take some food for the road, and nothing will be wasted.
An overnight success
If your guests are known for overstaying their welcome, use these tips carefully. There’s a good chance your visitors will have a wide variety of temperature preferences. Set out extra blankets, a space heater and fan by the guest bed to get ahead of the game. Stock up on extra toiletries your guests may forget in all the holiday craziness, such as toothpaste, floss, shampoo, soap and lotion. Travel-sized bottles add an extra touch of thoughtfulness that will make your guests feel like they’re staying in a luxurious hotel. Keep a notebook with any important information your guests may need to know, such as the WiFi password or alarm codes. Include a house key with a noticeable keychain to ensure it doesn’t get lost. This lets visitors know they are free to come and go. Finally, don’t forget about breakfast. It’s easy to overlook with holiday dinners stealing the show. If you don’t have time to prepare a full spread, set out grab-and-go foods like granola bars, fruit and cereal. Coffee, tea, sugar and creamer are other essentials.