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The 12 Days of Holiday House Prep

How to Get Your Home Guest-Ready

With the holidays on the way, you've already got your hands full, making your lists and checking them twice. Toss a few overnight guests into the mix, and you could feel overwhelmed with the extra work of sprucing up your home! But you don't have to go crazy to get things ready. This countdown to the arrival of guests will help you prepare, but won't take you away from routine tasks that also need your attention — and won't get you all stressed out for the holidays.


Clear out any clutter in your guest room, especially if you use it for storage most of the year, and make space for their clothes and other belongings and for storing luggage.


Tackle some winter house maintenance. Check weatherstripping around doors and windows. Arrange to have the gutters cleaned out. If you’re in a cold climate, stock up on salt and get your gardening tools put away.


Wash your guest linens and towels and get the bed made and the guest bath set up. Do you have enough towels? Now’s the time to shop for more, if you need to.

If you’re already washing linens, why not throw in your curtains as well? Even better: Wash the ones you use in fair weather and hang heavier draperies for the winter.


Make up a basket of items that are easily forgotten, like cotton swabs, toothpaste, a razor, and travel-size bottles of hair products and lotion to put at the end of the bed.


If your guests will spend some time in your home without you, do them a favor and label the remote controls and write down any tricks they’ll need to get the TV working or to change the thermostat.


Check that all the plugs and lights work in the guest room. Gather extra blankets and pillows and pile them on a chair or bench in the room so they can set the bed up the way they like.

This is also a good day to check that your outdoor lights are in good working order and your walkways are well-illuminated.


Declutter the living room. More people means you’ll need more space, not only for bodies but for drinks and snacks to be set out. Do you need to rearrange or bring in more furniture? Now’s the time to check.

When did you last have your chimney checked and cleaned? If you’re looking forward to cozy chats by the fire, then tackle this project today as well.


Deep clean. Go a bit above and beyond your basic scrub down. Pay extra attention to the bathroom, where cleanliness is a must. Vacuum under the couch cushions. Clean your oven using its self-cleaning feature — it’s about to get a big workout! Wipe down kitchen cabinets and your backsplash, which can be greasy or sticky. Swipe the cobwebs off the ceiling and light fixtures. Wash the pet bowls. Oh, and stock the loo with plenty of toilet paper.


Check with your incoming visitors to see if they have any dietary needs or restrictions, and make a shopping list of snacks and ingredients for meals. Shop for the items your guests have requested and the things you need to feed everyone in the days leading up to the holiday. (You’ll be using leftovers afterward, of course!)


Set up a coffee/tea station so guests don’t have to dig around in cupboards for all the necessary items (especially if you sleep later than they do!).

Check your coffeepot and kettle first to see if they need descaling. It’s also a good day to clean the dishwasher and pour boiling water down the sink drain to eliminate odors.


Stock the guest room’s bedside table with tissues, magazines, and a cute sign bearing the wifi code, and be sure there’s a trash bin handy.


Prep a casserole that you can have ready quickly when they arrive, especially if they’ve had a long journey. And do a quick tidy-up — made all the easier because you’ve already decluttered and deep cleaned!


RELAX! You’re prepped and ready. And ultimately, they are coming to visit you, not judge you. (Well, except for Aunt Henrietta. You know how she is.) Enjoy your guests, your home, and your holiday.

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