It’s finally time for the holidays—the season you’ve been looking forward to all year. Somehow, the joy and warmth of the Christmas season make us forget about the blustery winds, slippery sidewalks and short days of winter. From late November to the first day of the New Year, we enjoy great feasts and the wonderful company of our loved ones.
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But, to outdo last year’s festivities, there’s a lot of planning and preparation ahead. This is your guide to getting ready for the holidays.
Step 1: Prepare for Guests
Whether you’ll be having friends and family over for quick visits or a Christmas feast, these are some easy ways to get your home ready for company:
- Remove clutter on tables and around seating areas.
- Give the dining table a good polish with a wood protector.
- Clean out the fridge—you’ll need the room for leftovers.
- Declutter the outside of the fridge as well, to make room for your holiday cards and Christmas crafts from the kids.
- Keep the driveway, outdoor walkways and porch steps ice-free by ensuring they’re shoveled and salted.
Other than cleaning, here are a few things you can do to make your home cozier and more welcoming for visitors coming in from the cold:
- Drape the sofa and loveseat with cozy fleece throws and winter-weather afghans.
- Make sure hardwood floors are covered with an area rug for warmth.
- Set out plenty of coasters, so guests have somewhere to put their drinks—festive, personalized photo coasters add a nice touch.
- Have extra blankets on hand in the guest bedroom if anyone’s staying overnight.
- Swap out your normal kitchen and bathroom hand towels for some seasonal ones.
- Get the fireplace ready for winter and have a cozy fire started before guests arrive.
- Decorate your Christmas tree, of course.
Step 2: Get Festive
There are plenty of ways to ready your home for the holidays with festive décor. Whether you prefer subtle, inviting touches or all-out Christmas decorations, here are some ideas to satisfy your style:
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- Subtle: Potted evergreen saplings on the mantle or entertainment center lend a wintry touch.
- All-Out: Drape the mini trees in twinkling lights, or even add tiny ornaments and top them with Christmas stars.
- Subtle: Decorative bowls of pine cones and holly boughs make great centerpieces or mantle accents. (*Just be careful with using holly around children and pets, as the berries are poisonous.)
- All-Out: Spray-paint the pine cones silver or gold, or toss them in festive glitter for a sparkly look. Pair them with bright and shiny Christmas ball ornaments.
- Subtle: Tasteful tea lights add to the cozy ambiance on a coffee table or mantle.
- All-Out: Bring out your most ornate, festive candles in scents like cinnamon, gingerbread, berry or evergreen. Make a statement with one-of-a-kind candles featuring personalized designs and family photos.
- Subtle: A fresh wreath is great for welcoming guests at the front door. Keep it simple by decorating your wreath with a red ribbon bow.
- All-Out: Weave in a burlap or tulle garland among the greenery. Use pinecones, berries, acorns and roses or poinsettias in water picks to give it that festive look.
- Subtle: Hang a few simple stockings on your mantle or wall-mounted hooks.
- All-Out: Deck the halls with personalized stockings featuring favorite photos and the names of your family members.
Step 3: Bring Out the Stationery
The house is cleaned, decluttered and decorated. The gifts are purchased, wrapped and stacked beneath the tree. What’s left to do?
In keeping with the Christmas season, it’s time to make some lists (and check them twice). Break out your favorite stationery pad and get writing. Here are a few lists you might need to make:
- Holiday Menu: It’s important to plan your holiday menu ahead of time to avoid last-minute fiascos. Make a list of what you plan to make and the supplies you’ll need. From there, create a grocery list and check it over multiple times to ensure you haven’t missed anything. Don’t forget about non-food items like napkins, aluminum foil, cooking twine and tablecloths.
- Christmas Card Mailing List: If you haven’t sent out your season’s greetings yet, now’s the time to do so. Make a list of everyone you plan to mail a christmas card to, but be sure to order a few extras just in case. A good rule of thumb is to send a holiday card to anyone who sent you one last year. Check that you have enough envelopes, stamps and address labels to mail all your christmas cards. Aim to have them in the mail by the 2nd week of December.
- Feast Day To-Do List: When the day of the big feast finally rolls around, you’ll want to be prepared. Make sure your kitchen is an image of efficiency by planning ahead with a comprehensive to-do list.
Once steps 1-3 are complete, it’s just a matter of sitting back, relaxing and enjoying the company of your loved ones. The holidays only come once a year, so make the most of them.