Hooray! The Christmas season is here, that exciting, and yes stressful time of the year. With guests to entertain, fussy family to contend with, big meals to overcook, gifts to buy and then return, things can get pretty hairy.
If ‘home is where the heart is’ then get this right and the rest will follow. It’s best to prepare your house for festivities early on so that you have time to enjoy yourself with your loved ones, if by then you actually love any of them. Here are five tips on how to avoid the mayhem and get your home ready for some full on merry making.
1. Declutter and scrub until you cry
To prepare your home for guests, you will need to give the house a super clean. The first priority is to de-clutter and make extra space for all of their stuff, which means clearing the closets and re-arranging rooms if needed. You will discover many things that will shock you, that you thought were gone forever not just misplaced but stuffed in an upper cupboard shelf or under the bed coated in dust.
If you’re having trouble clearing enough space in your home, store with a neighbour instead with Storemates. Fill 10 boxes with all your non-seasonal items and just give them their marching orders. Until say March!
2. The kitchen – the best place for parties
The kitchen is one of the most important areas to tidy when getting ready for the parade of drop in’s (and drop outs) you’re likely to get. A clean, organised kitchen will give you a clear head when it comes time to planning and cooking family dinners. It’s also where the booze is usually stashed so you will find people there at all hours and in all states, be prepared, plus have few casual recycling bags around and accept that it will look like a ships galley during rough seas by Boxing day.
You will need to make room in your fridge and cupboards for all the extra snacks and meals you will be making for your guests and then the mountain of left overs, you’ll have, including all that turkey in Tupperware.
Start by re-organising the cupboards and fridge to clear as much space as possible. Then you can get onto other tasks like washing down the counter surfaces, cleaning the cooker top, wiping down small appliances, and mopping the floors if needed.
3. Death and dust – not very Christmassy
Pay good attention to small details too, like making sure your glassware and cutlery are extra shiny, not cracked, even the shot glasses which you will break anyway. Take a look through your home and take note of any other imperfections, like dead leaves in your houseplants, dead animals, messy bathroom cabinets, suspicious tissues or dust on the floor of the hallways. While you may be used to this, your guests will notice the small details especially your smug neighbours with dust swabbing fingers.
If you have kids, get them to help out to make things less stressful. If that’s too stressful, then there’s always the ‘being good for Santa’ blackmail trick.
4. Get festive
Once you’ve de-cluttered and cleaned your home, you can get your Chris Rea and Wham Christmas tracks all queued up, a tipple lined up and then start decorating to your heart’s desire. At last the fun part!
There are many ways to get your home fresh and festive for the Christmas season. The kitchen and dining room is a good place to start, as this is where you will be spending a lot of time entertaining guests. The best way to add some festivity to your kitchen is to use classic festive snacks as decorations. For instance, you could fill jars with shortbread, chocolate bars, fudge, walnuts or colourful Christmas bics, if you can’t be bothered with that just tip a box of ‘celebrations’ into a few jam jars and leave out of reach of children.
5. Get the smells and lights just right
Look for a Christmas centrepiece for the dining room table, ideally not just a cluster of beer cans and old Rudolf ears and get out your favourite festive themed placemats. Crackers with jokes that make sense, preferably not with golf tees and nose tweezers are good. Scented candles are a great addition too, from the scent of pine to cinnamon spice, there are loads of different seasonal scented candles on the market to get your home feeling and smelling like a kitsch ski chalet. Put these in various rooms throughout the house. This adds a nice welcoming touch to your home that your guests will appreciate if not prone to nausea.
Don’t forget to make use of your staircase if you have one. The staircase is a traditional space to hang colourful Christmas ornaments and is often the place that elderly relatives can be found kipping on half way up their tipsy journey to the bathroom. This is all you really need to make your home festive for the festive season. But if you really want to go all out on the decorating, why not finish off by hanging some Christmas lights outside your house? But don’t overdo it, it’s just Christmas not Vegas remember! Plus drunken vandals love a punch up with an enormous lit up snowman on the way back from midnight mass.
Alex Cordier is a freelance writer, who has been published across various sites on topics including home, travel, health and lifestyle. She is most passionate about home design and home living, and has written for companies such as Mr Blinds.