Planning a party or hosting overnight guests this holiday season? The preparation can be a lot to tackle all at once. That's why we're covering the prep one week at a time — so by the time the big day comes, much of your work will already be done. Below you'll find tips on getting your home ready for company, from decorations to drinks.
Invest in decor that will last. Want to avoid running out at the last minute for flowers to decorate the tables? Try using either real or fake boxwood topiaries instead. They look chic and festive, but they're not holiday-specific, so you can leave them out for months. Other long-lasting decor ideas: bowls of nuts in the shell; plain beeswax candles on a silver tray; pots of forced bulbs (they look fresh and beautiful even before they bloom).
Make room for coat storage. If you have a coat closet, coat tree or other space for coats in your entry, clear out your own coats and gear from the area so guests have space for their stuff. A unit with shelves or cubbies, like the one shown here, is great because there is also plenty of room for guests' hats, gloves and umbrellas. If you are looking for something to add, try a simple garment rack. Racks come at all price points, hold a ton and can be used in the laundry room post-holidays.
Stock the bathroom. It's not glamorous, but there are two things every party-ready bathroom needs: t.p. and a plunger. Once you have those basics covered, it wouldn't hurt to check your stock of pretty hand towels and soap. Have any bath product samples lying around? Spare toothbrushes? Gather them up and put them somewhere guests won't miss it — on the sink, or in the guest bedroom for overnight guests.
Make a stain-fighting kit. Gather your favourite go-to stain fighters in a spot you can get to easily during a party, to prevent that red wine on the sofa from becoming a total disaster. Try using a travel-size toiletry kit to store smaller amounts of favourite cleaners in, so you can grab it in an instant. Store a stain-removal cheat sheet along with your kit so you always know which cleaning agent to choose.
Take care of music and drinks. Choosing music for your party can be surprisingly time consuming — put together a few playlists now, and you won't have to worry about it later. Or pull out the vinyl collection and let your guests take turns playing DJ. Same goes for drinks: It's not like they will go bad, so stock up now and that's one less thing you'll need to shop for later. Plus, when you're not in a rush, you can take the time to shop around for the best deal... win-win!
Prep guest rooms. Fresh sheets and extra towels, a mirror, working bedside lights, curtains on the windows, a place to put a suitcase — check the basics off your list now so you won't have to scramble when a guest is due to arrive. If your guest room shares space with a home office, now is also a good time to clear out the clutter... guests shouldn't feel like they're sleeping in an office.
Find extra space for overnight guests. Don't have a separate guest room? Or need more than one? There are tons of options for squeezing in a comfortable extra bed. Store an air mattress in the closet and pull it out as needed. Or, for a more permanent option that blends with your decor, try a daybed or a sleek, modern sofa bed, like the one shown here.
Spruce up your entry, inside and out. It's the first things guests see, so make sure it sets the right tone. In a cold climate, safety should be priority No. 1, so check that the porch lights are working and roll out a slip-proof doormat outside. Indoors, an extra-large rug will feel more generous than the typical postage-stamp-size version, and it can handle big groups who arrive (and stamp feet) at once. A place to perch on, a few plump cushions and a mirror are gracious touches to consider adding.