Holiday guests, whether family, close friends, or neighbors need to feel welcome from the moment they enter your home. The smell of fresh-baked apple pie or sugar cookies will only go so far if your house is a disaster zone. But after all your cooking and baking, how do you have time to turn your home into a welcoming and inviting area?

Here are some tips to make your home guest-friendly for the holidays while still maintaining your own sanity.

  • Guest room once-over. If you have overnight guests, nothing is more welcoming than a freshly cleaned guest room. Give the bed linens a fresh washing. Put out fresh towels for the guest bath. A nice touch would be to include a basket of new toiletry items your guest may need during their visit. Add a few holiday scented candles, along with matches. You can go the extra step by placing a fresh-cut flower arrangement to give the room an added sweet scent. Your guests will appreciate you even more when they think they've stepped into a hotel room!
  • Organize your cupboards, especially the pantry and dish cupboard. Cut down on the chaos of extra hands helping in the kitchen by a little organization. Match all Tupperware with lids and make sure baking pans and casserole dishes have matching covers. Place serving utensils where they're easy to find. Then move on to the pantry to give each type of food its due space. Organize the baking goods like sugar and flour together. Canned goods in a separate space. Pastas together. Breakfast foods can go at the forefront if your guests are sleeping over.
  • Make your bathrooms shine. Bathrooms are one of the most important areas of your house where guests should notice the clean sparkle. There's nothing worse than a beautiful home with a not so clean bathroom. You'll want to spend some time here scrubbing and making it shine. Start with the tub and shower, and don't forget the shower curtain! Shower caddies should be cleaned as well to remove the soap scum. Next make that toilet bowl shine. Then move on to the sink. Use vinegar or glass cleaner for the faucet. For the mirrors, use glass cleaner and a squeegee. Last but not least, sweep and mop the floor. Grab a magic eraser for any remaining stubborn stains. You'll be amazed how magically stains from years ago disappear!
  • Wipe off the hand prints on the doors and walls. Day-to-day living can take a toll on doors and walls, especially those of lighter colors. Get out your magic eraser and remove the smudge here or there that usually goes unnoticed. You'll be surprised at how much this helps with your home's clean sparkle factor.
  • Add extra freshness to main areas by creating your own fabric refresher for upholstered chairs and couches. Try this simple recipe:

1 part baking soda
1 part fabric softener
2 parts warm water
Mix and store in a clean plastic spray bottle.

Next Steps After the Cleaning is Complete!

  • Give all floors one last cleaning. The day before or morning of your holiday get together, vacuum the carpets or rugs and mop all hard floors. The extra twinkle of a clean house won't be in vain. To prevent debris and dirt from entering your home, place welcoming mats at the entry doors.
  • Seasonally decorate. If you haven't already done so, add some eye-pleasing decor in a modern, fun, or classy theme. But keep the theme the same to give it a uniform sort of feel, rather than a mish mash effect. You don't have to break the bank with decorating. A little will go a long way.
  • Set up a coffee and snack station. Having a coffee corner, complete with the mugs, coffee, creamer, and sugar will help your guests help themselves while everyone is bustling around. To keep everyone happy and not hangry, include bagged snacks and treats for them to munch on in between meals. Think simple and convenient!
  • Spend less time during clean up with disposable table ware. Holidays are about spending time with those you love, so consider using disposable plates and silverware. No one has to wait for the hostess to clean up for the fun activities to begin. Be prepared with large enough trash bags to collect all the trash.
  • Labeled drinking cups are fun and practical. Glass markers for glassware are entertaining and easily wipe off with a little water. Or, you can make button drink labels with contrasting, funky buttons and glue dots. Glue dots are sticky circles of glue and primarily used for scrapbooking. Any local craft store should carry them. At the end of the night, simply peel off the buttons.
  • Show off your radiant smile. The house can be sparkling and the food delightful, but if the hostess is Grinchy, no one will enjoy the holiday. Preparation beforehand instead of last minute can help avoid catastrophic meltdowns. Show your inner beauty and sparkling smile while welcoming your guests with love and cheer!

The holidays don't have to be a stressful time, even when you're welcoming family and friends into your home. By following these tips, you'll not only feel more relaxed, but so will your guests when they see you went the extra bit to make them feel welcome.

More info? For more information about preparing your home for the holidays, check out our other post: Holiday Cleaning Tips: Your 7 Day Checklist