First off, let me clearly admit to having been a “part of the problem”. For many years I was directing the set-up of the Christmas shop and store decorations at your local department store. I know how you feel … ugh! Setting things up in September & October (and even sometimes August) for a December holiday seems excessive and hyper-commercial. Though there are some very good reasons stores do this , I'd personally have followed Nordstrom’s “day after Thanksgiving” mantra if it had been my choice. But my last name wasn't Macy (or Hecht or Thalhimer before that), so I did what the company I worked for asked me to do.
So, now free from that corporate oversight, why would I possibly suggest getting ready for the holidays so early? Well, because it makes sense. I'm not talking about setting up decorations now (PLEASE wait until a few weeks before each holiday for those). What I'm going to suggest are things you can do now that make the most hectic time of the year a bit less hectic, allowing you to enjoy the holidays you work so hard to celebrate.
I know what you're saying … you don't have time to do any of this stuff. So, the question I'd ask is this “Are you busier now than you will be the weekend before Thanksgiving? Or Christmas? I'd bet I know the answer. So, here's the first in a series of posts with some great projects to do now to save time (and stress) when the holidays come around.
Start with - Make room for guests
Some of us have an actual “guestroom” some don’t. Either way, there are things you can do now to make planned and unplanned overnight guests comfortable.
If you do have a Guestroom :
· Clear out the clutter. A little bit of cleaning up is an easy way to give your guests a calm, relaxing spot to relax in. Clear away stacks of paper, magazines and anything else that’s unnecessary.
· Clean out the closet. We all know that one of the first hiding spots for “stuff” is the guest room closet. It doesn't need to be empty, but should have room for your guests to hang a few things, put their shoes on the floor and stow their bag. Sometimes, you don't need to get rid of anything to make space, just organize what's there, but I'd guess you'll find lots of things to donate/trash in the process.
· Empty a drawer or two. Again, you don't have to empty the bureau, but a few empty drawers so that your guests don't have to live out of their suitcase will make them feel welcomed.
· The little luxuries. Think about the amenities you enjoyed during your last hotel stay. From the practical (universal phone charger) to the decadent (snacks and sweets) you can wow your guests with a little forethought. We’ll deal with the guest batch In another post. Here's a list to consider :
- Extra pillows
- An extra blanket
- A couple of robes
- A small basket of snacks/sweets
- A few books (romance, mystery, biography, history)
- Suitcase stand – the foldable kind are great and can be stored in the closet when not in use
- Small alarm clock
- Wall mirror
· Share basic info. Create a small card that lists important info (wifi password, phone numbers, household instructions) that your guests might need but don't want to keep bothering you for). Think about what previous guests have needed to create your card.
· A spare key (and a place for it). Having a dedicated key that stays with the guest room makes things easy for you and your guests. Put it on a ring and put it on a labeled hook, tray or small dish so your guests know here to get it and leave it.
If you don't have a Guestroom :
· Invest in a few air mattresses. A couple of twin size work well, add a full or queen size if you have the room. Buy them early, while they're still in stock. Make sure you have the linens you need to make is a “proper” bed … sheets, blanket, pillows. The linens can make all the difference to transform an air mattress.
· A folding suitcase stand. Nice in a guest room, even more important when you don't have one.
· A guest “box”. Dedicate an attractive bin to items for overnight guests so you know where they are and ready for them. Pick the things from the list in the previous section that you think will be most meaningful for your guests. A set of towels, disposable ear plugs, an eye mask and a laundry bag will be sincerely appreciated.
· A folding screen. You may not be able to give your guests four walls and a door, but a bit of privacy can go a long way. Shop very reasonable options on amazon.com and wayfair.com
Take a bit of time over the next few weekends. When the crunch times comes and the guests are literally “on their way”, you’ll be glad you did … and so will they!
Next up ... the Guest Bath