Welcoming friends and family to your home over Christmas and new year? Make sure entertaining’s stress free with our quick and easy home improvement ideas and simple ways to get set for holiday guests
Pic: Farrow & Ball
Declutter the hall
Start your guest preparation by ensuring yours is a clutter-free home. The hallway’s the space visitors will see first, so check you have enough hanging space for their coats as well as the family’s. Extra hooks are straightforward to put up, or try a peg rail instead. Shoe storage is a must-have, too. Invest in a cabinet or bench to encourage the family to stash not strew. Why not set the Christmas mood in the hall as well? Better than flowers for lasting over the festive period, a display of Christmas foliage can add seasonal fragrance and create the right atmosphere. Only have bright overhead lighting in your hall? Move one table lamp or a pair to a side table to create a soft and welcoming glow.
Living room solutions
Enough seating in the living room? Do the head count now. Can you move occasional chairs from bedrooms to avoid too many bodies on the sofa? Younger family members may be fine with floor cushions or upholstered stools, leaving more supportive seating to others and, in fabrics that co-ordinate with the existing room scheme, will look good. Check out how the passages through your living spaces work before your home gets busy, too. If any seating’s blocking doors or obvious walkways, rearrange it to ensure having a bigger household doesn’t mean overcrowding. Layouts such as sofas facing over a coffee table, or right-angled arrangements could help.
Pic: Green Gorgeous
Sort out dining spaces
Don’t let a big gathering be a compromise too far on elbow room. If the dining table’s not sizeable or extendable enough consider a larger top that can be placed over the existing one and dressed up beautifully with a linen cloth. Short on dining chairs, or know you won’t squeeze in a sufficient number? A bench is a good solution for fitting in more people. An upholstered design is kinder for long relaxing meals, or invest in (or even make) some cushions to soften a wooden version. If it’s a design without back support, children and adults with great posture are the ones to seat here rather than less limber family members.
Pic: Shutterly Fabulous
Create gorgeous guest bedrooms
The temperature of your home might not be what guests are used to. Once you’ve made up the bed, adding a throw or blanket they can use if the room’s too cold will be welcome. For those who like it cool, make sure they can unlock the window, know how to open trickle vents, and can turn down the radiator. Homely touches are always appreciated (and save those travelling on public transport carrying more than they need to). An alarm clock, a carafe and glass for nighttime water, and even a book or two are thoughtful extras. Don’t let holiday guests live out of a suitcase. If the wardrobe’s full to bursting, hooks behind the door with padded hangers will allow them to keep their clothes in good shape while they’re staying over. Clear drawer space, too, and give them somewhere to stash the suitcase out of the way rather than step round it. Even when it’s your nearest and very dearest who are staying, everyone appreciates a little time apart so if there’s room for some bedroom seating, give your guests the opportunity to relax without you (while you get on with what you need to do).
Pic: George Home
Be generous with towels for your guests and it’ll spare a raid on the airing cupboard when you’re busy. If everyone’s sharing a bathroom, giving visitors a different towel colourway helps. Make sure there’s somewhere to dry them, too. If the heated towel radiator’s full to bursting, a freestanding rack means they can air. A finishing touch in case they’ve forgotten, a basket with soap, toothpaste, shampoo and even a shower cap will look hotel smart in the bathroom as well as sparing guests confessing their oversight. Discover more home improvement ideas on our blog.