We all look forward to the house being filled with family and friends over the festive period… and then look forward to them leaving us in peace again! The more organised you are prior to the arrival of visitors, the easier you’ll find it to relax and enjoy their company and the celebrations.

Declutter

Now is a great opportunity to do a “winter clean” and get rid of things you don’t need before the Christmas rush. The simplest way to tackle this chore is to simply work through the house a room at a time, creating two piles: one for things that absolutely must stay, and a second pile that can be further subdivided into recycle, donate, and rubbish.

It may be worth investing in some inexpensive storage boxes for those things you can’t bear to part with – but need to get out of the way.

Prepare the guest room (even if the guest room is the sofa bed in the living room!)

Give the mattress, duvets and pillows a good airing (with the windows open if it’s not too chilly) if it’s not been used recently, and make sure you have clean bedding ready. If guests are staying more than a night or two they might wish to unpack, so clear out a couple of drawers and perhaps purchase a hanging rack from somewhere like IKEA if you don’t have much furniture in the guest room.

It would be worthwhile making sure that you have extra bedding on hand (especially if children are visiting) and plenty of clean towels, so you’re not caught out if there are any disasters.

Now is a good chance to use up those hotel miniature toiletries you’ve collected over the years by displaying them in a basket or box in the bathroom. Someone will always have forgotten shampoo or shower gel!

As a welcoming touch, a small Christmas decoration or seasonal plant (such as a poinsettia) will surely be appreciated.

Cook ahead

You would much rather spend time with your guests than stuck in the kitchen preparing endless meals, and often cooking for company day after day can feel overwhelming and exhausting. It will take the pressure off if you take an afternoon beforehand to plan the meals for the duration of the visit, and cook and freeze what you can ahead of time. It would be worthwhile having a couple of extra basics, such as soups and pasta sauces on hand in case of fussy eaters. And don’t forget to keep a takeaway menu handy too – you’ll certainly deserve a night off!

Most of all though, remember that your friends or family are coming to spend time with you and won’t mind if things don’t go exactly to plan. Prepare as much as you can, then prepare to relax and enjoy the festive period with your guests.