Hosting

How to get your home ready for holiday guests

Hosting family members for the holidays is a great way to spend quality time with loved ones during a special time of year. For many families, the holidays are the one time each year when everyone can get together regardless of where they live or how demanding their commitments to work and family can be.

When families gather for the holidays, many people often find themselves playing host to distant relatives. Accepting such hosting duties is an act that comes with many responsibilities, including readying the home for overnight guests. The following are a few ways hosts can prepare their homes for holiday guests.

* Take inventory of linens. Overnight guests mean you will need extra bed linens, blankets and pillows. Take inventory of your linen closet now, and inspect each set of sheets to make sure they are still usable. If sheets are ragged or the blankets have thinned, purchase new linens so your guests feel as if they're at home and don't get cold overnight. If your linen closet is fully stocked with quality linens, clean them in the days leading up to your guests' arrival.

* Buy some night lights. You might be familiar enough with your home's layout in the dark, but your guests likely won't have that same sense of familiarity. Purchase a few night lights for the hallways and restrooms so guests can easily get around should they need to get up in the middle of the night to use the restroom.

* Childproof your home if necessary. Kids can be curious, so holiday hosts without children of their own should childproof their homes before any guests arrive with kids in tow. Move hazardous materials to high shelves that kids can't reach, and make sure any prescription medications are also out of reach of youngsters. If your home has any steep staircases, consider purchasing some child gates or asking your guests to bring their own gates to reduce the risk of young kids falling down your stairs.

* Stock up on toiletries and other essentials. Replenish your supply of toiletries before guests arrive. Stock up on toilet paper, tissues, toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, and lotion in the days leading up to the holidays. In addition, consider buying kitchen items like paper towels, napkins, plastic cutlery, and paper plates. Paper plates may come in especially handy, saving you the trouble of having to load up the dishwasher after meals in which paper plates and plastic cutlery would have sufficed.

* Give your common areas a thorough cleaning. Any common areas of the home, including the foyer, living room, dining room, kitchen, and restrooms, should be given a thorough cleaning prior to your guests' arrival. Clean any bedrooms where guests will be staying as well. You don't need to devote as much time to cleaning your own bedroom or home office, but make sure these rooms are presentable as well.

* Clean out the closets. If your hall closets are largely used for storing miscellaneous items, clean them out for the coming days to make room for your guests' coats, jackets, scarves, hats, and shoes. Moving these items, be it to the garage, a backyard shed or the basement, can be temporary, but you will need your closets to serve a more traditional purpose while your guests are in town for the holidays.