I recently hosted a women’s brunch and book club in my home. I was fretting over deep cleaning and baking the perfect dish. What a complete waste of time. When my guests arrived, not one single person was examining the undersides of my couch cushions or scrutinizing over the dust on top of my pendant lamps. They all gobbled down the bread I made. It was wonderful having women in my home. Being hospitable was simple: a little coffee and simple touches went a long way to tell my guests I cared for them.
Holidays come with lots of guests, food, and festivities. This season is also super busy, so there is not much time to deep clean your home for a Friday night social gathering. Here is a cheat sheet for easy ways to prep your home for a gathering this holiday season, without stressing or hiring help.
1. De-clutter home using the laundry basket method
Baskets are my best friend. If I am in a time crunch and have people coming over, I take a large laundry basket and go room to room putting things that do not belong where they are in the basket. Then, I put the basket somewhere out of sight and out of mind until I have time to put things back where they belong (after the gathering). A de-cluttered home is welcoming and provides space for food trays and beverage stations.
2. First impressions make a difference
Next, I sweep my front entryway, clean off cobwebs, and ensure all kids toys are put away. I shake off my doormat as well. A beautiful holiday wreath is an easy and inexpensive way to welcome in guests.
3. Quickie bathroom surface clean
Scrubbing the shower is not necessary. If someone is spying on the cleanliness of your shower they shouldn’t be your friend, anyways. Simply surface clean all your bathroom fixtures, sink, and toilet with a vinegar and water solution. Ensure there is plenty of toilet paper, hand soap, and add a nice candle or spray with a festive scent. Fresh laundered towels for drying hands is a nice touch. Remove excess robes or beauty products by placing in closets.
4. Have coffee and tea ready
Guests are almost always pleased with a fresh pot of coffee or hot tea selection. Juices and cocktails are a hit, too. I love using our mugs and glasses instead of plastics. It feels more “homey”. Disposable cups are great for large gatherings.
5. Play music everyone will like
A great play list is an easy way to soften awkward “quiet” moments. If you know what your guests like, choose a play list on Pandora or Spotify based on preferences. Our favorite crowd-pleasing stations are Frank Sinatra (all ages enjoy), Discovery (upbeat music), and Washed Out (for an urban feel). Country and Metal are genres that make some people cringe.
6. Warm up the home with lighting
Candles give a beautiful glow and can enhance many areas of the home. I love lighting a candle in my kitchen and using a wax melt warmer and wax melts in my living room to give a soft scent. I also turn on my lamps instead of overhead lighting to give a soft light that makes the room warm and cozy. I bought a few holiday candles from the Glade® Winter Collection. Sparkling Spruce™ was my absolute favorite- with hints of pine and cedar. Apple Cinnamon Cheer™ is also a fantastic holiday scent. I got these candles on sale at my local Kroger store. I saved almost $6 on my purchase! (Be extra careful when choosing safe spots for candles that are away from children and are not in high traffic areas.)
7. Simple decorations
No need to go overboard with decorations for a holiday gathering. I made this simple Christmas arrangement using supplies from the Dollar Store and some old chevron burlap. The whole project cost me $7. Pull out old vases and purchase seasonal flowers (or better yet, cut from your yard if possible!). Another lovely idea is to fill large hurricane candles with water along your entry way and place floating flowers inside.
8. Circle around
Consider arranging chairs to create a casual “circle”. This enhances conversations and eases people into getting to know one another.
9. Get our your camera
I always forget to charge my camera and have it ready for parties! It might seem like a silly thing to remember, but I am so disappointed when I forget to take pics!
You are finished getting your house ready. You have a few minutes before guests arrive. Relax! Have a glass of wine or tea and just enjoy your home. Being a hospitable party host means you are able to graciously care for guests in your home. A stressed host makes guest feel stressed. Let things go and enjoy your time with your loved ones.