I remember the year we moved on December 26, the day after Christmas. Our house was packed up with boxes everywhere. I had one small artificial tree up, but no other decorations. Instead of hosting dinner, we went out for Christmas lunch at the local Hibachi grill. We even moved a few boxes Christmas morning to our new house before meeting up with my cousin’s family at the grill. Instead of enjoying the evening with family, we were finishing up packing details for moving day. It was different and didn’t quite feel like Christmas.
There’s something special about decorations, lights, traditions, opening gifts around the fireplace, serving up a homemade dinner, flickering candles, family gatherings, Hallmark movies, and the list goes on! Many of us will host family and friends at some point this holiday season in our homes. We can make our celebration as elaborate or as simple as we want. This year we will get to host dinner Christmas evening at our home and I’m working on all the details. Here are 9 things to help you (and me) get ready to create special memories and prepare your home for the holidays.
Declutter to create space for decorations – Most of us have a lot of stuff in our homes so when we bring out the Christmas decorations, there’s nowhere to put it all. I had to move a big plant and a dog bed to make space for the Christmas tree! I moved some clutter off the piano for the angels, and cleared off the table for the poinsettia. Instead of stuffing decorations into every nook and cranny, put away some items and declutter first. Then place your Christmas decorations in the perfect spots to show them off.
Make your menu and grocery list – One thing I do all of the time, not just for holidays, is to create my menu for the week before going shopping. From the menu I create the grocery list based on the recipe items. This is even more important for holiday celebrations because most likely we are making recipes with unusual ingredients we don’t usually have on hand. Think through all of the meals, the number of people, snacks, etc., to make a detailed menu and grocery list. This will save you from running to the store last minute because you need that one thing!
Count your dishes and silverware – You may choose to use paper plates or Grandma’s china. Either way, you need to make sure you have enough plates, cups, bowls, and silverware. Don’t forget to check your serving dishes, too. I usually set out the dishes I need for each part of the meal – platters for meat, large bowls for mashed potatoes and corn, the casserole dish for green beans, the butter dish, the serving spoons, and the pie cutter. If you have these things in storage, give yourself enough time to wash/wipe down the dishes and get rid of dust. If you have a place to “stage” the dishes, set everything out the night before. It will make the day go easier if you’re not hunting for the right dish or spoon!
Count your seating and chairs – Make sure you have plenty of seating for your dinner guests, including extra chairs, folding tables, etc. If you’re like me, this also means clearing off the dining table that’s gotten cluttered over time. My folding chairs are in storage so I also need to get them out, wipe them down, and clean them off for the big day. I have used a folding table for extra seating and my kitchen counter as a buffet line. Set everything up so you know there’s enough seating as well as plenty of walking room.
Check appliances and cooking equipment – Most of us use our ovens and stoves regularly. For holiday dinners, however, we may be pulling crockpots and roaster ovens out of storage. Check them long before it’s time to cook the turkey just in case they don’t work. Also think through how long each dish needs to cook, at what temperature, and how you’re going to juggle all the cook times to get everything done. Then be sure all of the cooking equipment is ready to go and working.
Freshen up your guest room – Did you remember to wash the sheets since your last guest? How about adding a warm blanket for these cold nights? I recently changed the sheets on the guest bed to warm jersey sheets and added a fleece blanket. Then I put a basket of books in the corner for reading. I have a lamp on the nightstand so the overhead light doesn’t have to be on and is easy to reach. Look around the room and think about what would add to your guest’s comfort.
Check bathrooms for TP and essentials – Have you ever been at someone’s house and had to search for toilet paper in the vanity, only to find none! Well, don’t let that happen to your guests. Stock up on toilet paper and put it in an easy-to-find location. Make sure there is plenty of hand soap and paper towels, or a clean towel on the rack. Stock the shower with toiletries in case your guests didn’t bring any along. Have an extra toothbrush and toothpaste on hand as well. No one wants to make an emergency trip to the store on Christmas Eve!
Add lighting and check light bulbs – If you’re in an older home, chances are there are no overhead lights in the rooms. Add plenty of lamps to light up the room. Make sure all lightbulbs are working and replace any that aren’t. Have different types of lighting and light bulbs to create a brightly lit room for playing games, or a dimly lit room for watching movies. Put lamps in bedrooms within easy reach of the waking guests. Put nightlights in hallways and bathrooms so there are no accidents in the middle of the night!
Add lots of comfy touches – After dinner and full bellies, everyone will probably find a soft spot in the living room to recover! Make sure there’s plenty of warm throws and pillows to go around. You may have to pull in extra chairs or bean bags if you have them. Even the floor can be a great place to catch a nap if it’s carpeted and there are plenty of pillows. If you have a fireplace or woodstove, have the wood, paper, and lighter stocked and ready to go. There’s nothing like a glowing fire, a soft blanket, and a big pillow to bring on the cozy feelings.
However you are celebrating this year, I hope your home is warm, happy, and cozy. I hope you follow fun traditions and make wonderful memories. Even if you decide to eat Hibachi for Christmas dinner, you can warm up your home for the holidays and enjoy it all season long.
Do you dream of a bigger home to host holidays in? A staircase to decorate? A kitchen island to bake Christmas cookies on? Don’t wait another year! We can get you into your dream home before another holiday comes and goes.