Christmas should be a time of peace on earth and goodwill to all men but more often than not, if we are hosting, nerves come to fray and it sometimes becomes a stressful time for all.
If you’re hosting guests, preparation is key. The real secret is hidden in the night before Christmas – do as much preparation as you can the night before. If you’re cooking, this might include things like remembering to take the turkey out of the freezer or preparing all of the vegetables and soaking them in water overnight. If you have house guests staying, ensure you have enough pillows and duvets and the beds are all made up before the arrive. It’s always nice to have guest towels at the ready and maybe a welcome pack on their pillow just in case they’ve forgotten anything!
Here are our top tips for ensuring everyone survives visiting over the holidays with sanity intact.
1. Make a list – if you’re tech savvy, why not ask Alexa (or another intelligent personal assistant) to remind you of all the jobs that need doing each day? That way you can set reminders well into the future and you won’t forget a thing. The only thing you must remember is to get Alexa to remind you..!
2. Food: Another tip is in the food you choose. Apart from Christmas dinner, make meals simple. For breakfast a choice of cereal is ideal, or if you want to push the boat out, ready-made pancakes or a simple continental breakfast of ham, cheese and fruit works well, so your guests can help themselves.
3. House: decorate your home so it’s warm and welcoming. Give it a thorough clean and tidy up before putting up decorations, so it’s easier to keep that way until guests arrive. Buy some clove and cinnamon scented candles so your home will smell really festive. Wrap Christmas presents weeks in advance to free up time closer to the day.
4. Very young guests: If you have babies or toddlers staying, ensure you have plug socket covers and protective table corners in place to try and prevent any impending accidents. It’s also an idea to pack away 50% of toys before they arrive and put out larger toys so at the end of a long day there’s less to tidy away.
5. Young guests: If you have young guests staying, set the house rules when they arrive so they know what’s expected of them and delegate some of the work to the kids – for example, ask for help with the washing and drying up.
6. Older guests: If you have older guests staying with you, it’s an idea to ask them what food they like to eat and what they like to drink before they arrive, so they feel welcome from the offset. This also means you can shop in advance so you’re not running to the shops every five minutes. (Although this sometimes turns out to be a welcome distraction!)
7. If your parents are elderly or have mobility problems, installing hand rails in the toilet or bathroom may be extreme measures to take but you can ensure that your house is safe for older people to navigate. For example ensure you have a banister rail down the staircase and you have non-slip mats in the toilets and bathroom. If you’ve got children, hide away small toys that could cause accidents if left laying around.
8. Older people tend to feel the cold more than younger people because they are generally less active. During their time with you, put the heating on constant and notch the heat up a few degrees - so if it does turn cold, the heating will kick in and they’ll always be warm.
9. Ensure your guests are comfortable during their stay. Try adding a couple of extra blankets or throws on the bed so they can stay warm during the night. You could buy an extra pair of slippers for them to use while they are staying with you, or better still buy them a pair for Christmas!
10. Don’t be afraid to ask guests for help with clearing the table or washing up the pots and pans (because the dishwasher is on its second cycle of the day!) Remember it’s your Christmas too!
Remember, your guests are only visiting you for a few days and then you have New Year’s Eve to look forward to - unless you’re hosting then as well…