The holiday season is a great time of year because it usually means we get to spend extra time with loved ones—especially those we might not normally get to see or spend much time with. Be it with family, friends, or even coworkers, Thanksgiving especially is a time of gathering.
Is it going to be your home this year?
For most of us, our home is ours. Our spaces are decorated to our tastes and optimized for functionality for all of our usual occupants—no matter how great or how few. But often bringing in additional loved ones requires preparing—and perhaps even changing—the space you love. Between the extra holidays guests, the cooking, the cleaning, the added stress of your mother-in-law….the mere thought might make you cringe, right? Well don’t!
Take a moment. Breathe. Relax. There’s no need to be nervous.
My mom has a saying: give me a day’s notice if you want to see me. Give me a week’s notice if you want to see my house.
We know that you already know that cleaning is step one to hosting a holiday meal at your house. It’s probably been instilled in your head for years, now: you just have to clean up your home before having guests over. Thanksgiving just means you have to clean it 10 times better, right?
We’re not saying that cleaning and decluttering is important to impress anyone (although there’s nothing wrong with wanting to make your home look as beautiful as possible!). It is really important, however, to make your guests feel welcome by giving them room and providing a safe and open environment they can feel comfortable in.
We’re not saying to go crazy—you don’t have to repaint your walls and replace your carpet. Simply make public areas (and any guest rooms) clean. Dust and sweep and vacuum just as you would any other routine cleaning. Any funky odors? Make note to clean the litterbox or take out the garbage or refill your air fresheners.
If you want to buy new, though, go right ahead. Sometimes having 30 extra people in our living room makes us realize that, wow, we probably needed a new couch 5 years ago. Just keep in mind that those 30 extra people mean that there’s 30 more possibilities of someone accidentally dropping cranberry sauce on your new white rug.
But go one step further, too, when it comes to cleaning up the place: remove unnecessary objects from counters, tables, ottomans, chairs, etc. to allow room for guests (and food!). If you need to add extra tables and chairs for seating arrangements, that space is even more valuable to you and your guests.
If you have the time, you can find some of our tips on decluttering your home here. If you don’t have much time, simply bag up the extra clutter and (temporarily!) store it in out of the way spaces, such as your garage, basement, attic, car trunk, etc.
Out of sight, out of mind (we promise we won’t tell!)
You know your home like no one else does. Which means you could probably walk around the place blindfolded and encounter no trouble. But to your holiday guests, this is unfamiliar territory (no matter how many times they’ve visited).
If children (or pets) will be visiting, make sure all toxic cleaners and medicines are locked away and out of reach. The same goes with toxic plants that might make their way into small mouths. If necessary, you can ask the parents of visiting children to bring things like baby gates or cabinet locks.
Make sure your smoke detectors are in working order and fire extinguishers are handy— make sure your guests know where they (and fire exits) are located.
Motion-activated lights in dark hallways and bathrooms help your guests navigate your unfamiliar house.
When you inevitably tackle cleaning your bathroom(s), take some extra steps to save your guests embarrassment and frustration. Keep these within easy reach:
If you have pets of your own, don’t forget to consider their safety, too. Do they have a safe place to go if the main areas of your home get too busy for their liking? How will you prevent their escaping when guests are frequently opening the front door? You know your pets like you know your home: better than anyone. Do what’s right for them (and your guests) to keep everyone happy, healthy, and safe.
Are any guests staying over? If so, prepare any guest spaces with clean bedding. If your guests have any pet allergies, and you have pets, give these rooms an extra thorough cleaning and prevent your furry family members from entering the space until your guests leave.
If you’re turning public places into sleeping areas, consider ways to to add some privacy (like temporary curtains or privacy screens) that can be removed during the day.
Do you have a designated closet or room for coats, purses, etc.? Choose a place easily accessible for your guests for when they leave.
Is your kitchen the social hub? Add extra seating around the counter if you anticipate your guests to hang out there while everything is cooking. Likewise, keep some kitchen extras handy in the event your guests want to lend a helping hand.
It’s never a bad idea to make little signs around the house to help your guests find the coat closet, the bathroom, or to tell them how to get the wonky toilet or shower to work. If the cat is sequestered to the back room, you won’t offend your guests with a sign that says “this door must be kept closed at all times.”
If you need help, don’t be afraid to ask. If your aunt typically hosts Thanksgiving, but you’re taking over since she broke her hip, ask her for advice! Chances are there are a bunch of people willing to lend a hand or a pie. And if you’re looking for ways to make cooking Thanksgiving dinner easier, check out our list of 10 great kitchen appliances for a less stressful turkey day.
Don’t sweat it! Slightly over-roasted carrots are not the end of the world. A-tad-too-dry turkey is curable with extra gravy and cranberry sauce. Oh, and you just found out your second cousin’s new boyfriend is vegan? Well…there are plenty of vegan-friendly recipes on the internet!
Sarah is a content writer and social media assistant with a BA in literature/creative writing from Wilkes University. When she’s not spending her days at work writing, reading, and drinking coffee, she’s usually at home reading, writing, and drinking coffee. She also devotes a fair amount of time to HGTV, drawing, and doting on her dog. As a creator, Sarah believes in emphasizing personality through design and DIY projects.