It’s that time of year again, when family and friends from afar descend upon your home for holiday festivities. Some stay for days; others just come for a party. In either case, a 2017 holiday survey found that 65 percent of respondents host between 1 and 15 guests over the holiday season and most of these hosts will prepare at least one meal daily for their guests—that’s a lot of work.
Regardless of the number of guests you have, you need to be stocked up and ready to host. Use this simple checklist to ensure your guests have what they need and you’ll spend less time running around because you weren’t prepared.
- Get the Bathrooms Guest-Ready
The single most important detail is making sure your bathroom is ready. No one wants to come out of the bathroom and ask their host where they keep the spare toilet paper or clean up in a dirty shower.
First and foremost, put plenty of extra toilet paper near the toilet for easy access and consider adding a sticky note so people know where to find it. Better yet, put the additional rolls in a basket on the floor near the toilet. This makes them easy to find when needed.
Do the laundry so you have plenty of clean and dry hand towels in an obvious location. Don’t forget about other basics, like shampoo, conditioner, razors, shower gel and more—all of which your guests may not have been able to bring on the flight. To spend less, stock up on these essentials at the dollar store.
If need-be, hire a cleaner to give your bathroom a deep scrubbing. If it’s something you haven’t done in a while, you’ll be glad you did, regardless of having guests. Otherwise, ajax scrub is always strong and effective for dirty tubs.
The final touch is a festive, scented candle and a bottle of air freshener so it smells fresh when they arrive and stays that way.
- Buy Allergy- and Dietary-Appropriate Foods
If you don’t have the same allergies or dietary needs as your guests, it may take you a little while to prepare recipes and find ingredients. Give yourself time to do this by asking guests about dietary restrictions at least two weeks in advance. Don’t hesitate to ask for suggestions or simply ask, “What do you prefer to eat/snack on/have for breakfast?” Then you can stock up on their favorites and everyone is happy.
- Make Space in the Kitchen
Boxed cereal, granola bars, yogurt, and fruit are all great for snacking or holding off hunger pangs for early-morning eaters. You’ll need to make room for these in the refrigerator and pantry. Also consider keeping a basket of teas, coffee, and extras like creamer, sugar, and honey that’s easily accessible—the best place for this being the counter or bar. Don’t forget about extra gadgets you may pull out, like a second coffee maker or espresso machine that you never use. Re-arrange as necessary so eveything is available without being crowded.
Finally, put all kitchen basics in easy to find and reach places. Silverware, dishes, glasses, and cups should all be easily accessible for everyone. You can use an open shelf at eye-level, or label the shelves with festive sticky notes.
- Prep the Bedrooms—But Don’t Overstock
You want to make your guest bedroom a beautiful haven for those staying overnight, but experts suggest that you don’t spend a lot of time or money on decorating this room. Think about decorating your guest bedroom in much the same way hotels do—simply and without clutter.
“In a strange room, comfort and space are more soothing than a clutter of unfamiliar things. On a bedside table, place a single flower bloom in a simple glass, a nice clock, and a selection of books suited to your guests’ tastes,” suggest décor experts at Martha Stewart.com.
Instead, focus on keeping just the essentials nearby and easy to find: “Keep extra pillows and blankets near your guest’s sleeping area so they can easily help themselves and stay comfortable. If possible consider adding a fan as well in case they would like to sleep cooler than your home’s temperature,” says The Happier Homemaker.
- Stock Up On Cleaning Supplies
Wherever you have a gathering of people, you’re going to have a mess to clean up at some point. They key is staying ahead of it. Keep an ample supply of paper towels and napkins, dish detergent, dishwasher detergent, disinfectant spray, and sponges. When a spill happens, you can grab what you need and clean it up fast, rather than realizing you have nothing and sopping up clean towels with juice or gravy. Not to mention, being able to act quickly means the difference between a red wine stain or clean carpeting.
Start Prepping Now
Get started with your preparations, and once you’ve checked these items off of your to-do list, you’ll have greater peace of mind and feel ready to host. Now you can sit back and enjoy the holidays with friends and family.
BIO: Jessica Thiefels has been writing for more than 10 years and is currently a full-time writer and business owner. She’s written for Reader’s Digest, AARP, Remax, Lifehack and more. Follow her on Twitter @Jlsander07 and connect LinkedIn.