Hosting Guests this Holiday Season

Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or something else entirely, the chance to see your family and friends is truly one of the best parts, if not the best part, of the holidays.

But hosting family members and friends in your own home can also be one of the most stressful parts of the holidays. It’s unfortunate that this cheery time of year can become overwhelming, and trying to make everything perfect for guests at your home can only add to your stress. However, with some simple planning you can have a stress-free time while hosting the ones you love.

Alicia on “It’s OK Not to Be the Ritz”:

As much as you’d love to give your guests the perfect, five-star experience, putting chocolates on the pillows, cooking amazing meals and doing anything else a top-flight hotel would provide is just not realistic. In fact, setting the bar that high will only make you more stressed and less likely to be able to enjoy the company. The best way to make guests feel comfortable will be to treat them as though they are truly part of the family. People become uncomfortable if they feel their hosts are waiting on them hand and foot. Instead, focus on a few small details ahead of time so they feel welcome. For example, if a cousin is in town, leave a photo album that contains family-beach-vacation pictures from when you were kids on the dresser. Avoid slavishly tending to their every need the entire time. You don’t need to vacuum twice a day (your guests will want to sleep in in peace).

Sarah on “Mapping Out Fun Around Town”:

If guests are coming from far away, they probably want to see things that are unique to your area. You should partake in these activities with them if you’re able to, but know that if you have to work the Monday before Christmas and can’t join them at the local ski resort, that’s OK. Gather up a few Web sites and e-mail your guests information for local activities that you think they might like, such as going to a festival of lights, concerts or museums. Also, if you have something in mind you would like to do with everyone, be sure to ask your guests ahead of time. It would be discourteous to assume they want to go see “The Nutcracker” if their 5-year-old isn’t really at a sit-still phase yet.

Here are more tips to keep you and your guests happy during the stay:

#1. Delegate
There’s no reason the entire family can’t pitch in and help you get ready. The holidays are a family affair for both pitching in and having fun. Have your husband get the air mattresses out of the attic, clean the extra sheets and towels, or take care of other chores around the house that you need done. Have the kids help bake Aunt Maggie’s favorite cookies, make welcome cards and generally get the guest room ready.

#2. Stock Up on Favorite Things
Make your guests feel comfortable by asking them ahead of time a few of their favorite foods, like deli turkey or the kind of milk they usually drink. Small details will make them feel comfortable and welcomed. The best part about these items is that you can take care of them before they arrive. As an added touch, leave guests some of your favorite lotions or soaps in the bathroom.

#3. Prep Your Kids
Children don’t always react well to changes in the routine. Be sure to explain to younger and older children that the whole family will be welcoming guests. Talk about the rules of hosting before guests arrive so the kids will know what to expect. Explain that guests come first. That’s how they would like things when they visit another home, so they should treat their guests in the same manner. Practice ways that the kids can make guests feel welcome and at home. The more prepared they are for the disruption, the more likely they are to roll with things once guests arrive.