Are you having house guests for the upcoming holidays?  ‘Tis the season for crowds, and while you might not be ready for handling your relationship with the in-laws, you still need to prepare your home.

With Christmas six weeks away, it might seem like you’ve got all kinds of time to fortify your abode — but if your family is like mine, November and December are when the calendar gets crazy busy.

Why not take some time now, before the chaos arrives on your doorstop?

Similar to part two of my book (head to the bottom of this page to scroll through some pages in advance), I like to take my house prep process room-by-room.  Here are a few ideas for the house hot spots that are especially trafficked by guests.

The Living Room

living room
I love looking at photos of the house built by contributor Mandi of Your Way

If you’ve got small living quarters, like my family, then you might only have a pull-out sofa bed to offer guests.  Don’t apologize for this — just make it work well. It will need to serve as both Command Central for your holiday season and as a bedroom for your out-of-towners.

Declutter, declutter, declutter. Now’s a great time to go through this central room and box up your unused and unloved books, magazines, and movies.

• Surfaces are at a premium when you’ve got guests with their own luggage.  Box up any tchotchkies that don’t really serve a purpose. Leave room for a little festive decor, but that’s it.  You might find, at the end of the holidays, that you like your newfound less-is-more look.

• Check your sofa bed.  Is it clean?  Make sure now that it’s sleep-able, before you say ‘yes’ to your guests.

Prepare the little things that make it easier to keep this central spot cozy for your visitors — make extra coasters (I like these and these), or keep a stack of blankets in the corner.

The Bathroom

This will be one of the most heavily-trodden spots in your home while you have guests.  A little goes a long way to make this spot more useful.

guest bathroom
Photo from Apartment Therapy

Make towels insanely easy to find. Ever stayed in a place and you feel squeamish having to look through cabinets to find what you need?  Make it simple on your guests.

Clean out drawers and cabinets, and leave empty shelves for upcoming guests. Take this time now to declutter and organize.  As I mention in my book, you probably don’t need most of the stuff hiding under your bathroom counters.

• Before you throw out all your hotel sample leftovers, save a few of the best and assemble a little basket of oops-did-you-forget-this?-well-here-you-go items.

Make toilet paper easy to find, too. That’s never fun to hunt for, especially in someone else’s house.

• If your kids’ bathroom will double as the guests’, declutter the bath toys, so that there’s ledge room in the tub.  Just a few are fine.

The Guest Bedroom

If you’re blessed to have a bedroom dedicated solely to occupy guests, then you’ve got more room than us right now.  But when we lived overseas, our kids’ playroom doubled as a guest bedroom, and we loved having tons of visitors sleep in that room (we had almost 30 guests in 2008!).

Photo by Sherry & John of Young House Love

Here are some things that take a guest room from good to great:

Provide an empty spot to open and store suitcases and bags. Declutter your surfaces.

Neatly pile extra blankets, pillows, and towels in an easy-to-spot location.

Give your guests something to read before falling asleep. Short stories and magazines are great, as are easy-to-read, practical books.

• Lighting.  Give your guests a light they can turn off from the bed. If you’ve got the room, set this on a nightstand (also good for the reading material).  I find it challenging to go without these things in a guest room.

The Rest of the House

There are a few more spots in the house you could prepare now for house guests.

Photo by Heidi of Mt. Hope Chronicles

• If extra kids will be bunking with your own, start now on those rooms.  Make a goal of packing up half their toys so that room cleaning is easier. You can always switch out the toys after the holidays are over.  Or, if the toys aren’t missed, you can donate them to your neighborhood thrift store.

Toss out expired food staples in your pantry, and make room for food your guests might want to bring.

Make basic ingredients easy to find. Holiday guests enjoy helping you cook, and it’s easier when they don’t have to go on a man hunt to find the flour.  You’ll appreciate it after the holidays, too.

Buy a few basics your guests might appreciate it, even if you don’t use them normally. My husband and I both drink our coffee black and prefer unsweet tea, so we always forget to have sugar and creamer around for company.  If you don’t drink coffee, buy a small bag to keep around for guests.

Pack up any clothes you’re not wearing this season, so that you can provide closet space for your guest’s clothing.  Or, get rid of any clothes you’re not wearing at all and add them to the thrift store pile (my book has a good list of the essential clothing pieces for both men and women).

It might feel early to do all this house prep for the holidays, but you’ll be thanking yourself when you don’t have to run around doing this right before you head to the airport and pick your guests up.

Next month, I’ll talk more about how to mentally and emotionally prepare for an influx of visitors in your home.

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Are you expecting guests?  Where will they sleep?  What’s one area in your house you could tackle this week to make it more inviting for your upcoming visitors?