How to Prepare for Holiday Guests

Hosting this year's holiday get-together? Make sure your home is prepared with these simple holiday hacks.
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Photo By: SETON ROSSINI ©SETON ROSSINI

Photo By: SETON ROSSINI ©SETON ROSSINI

Photo By: SETON ROSSINI ©SETON ROSSINI

Photo By: SETON ROSSINI ©SETON ROSSINI

Photo By: SETON ROSSINI ©SETON ROSSINI

Photo By: SETON ROSSINI ©SETON ROSSINI

Photo By: SETON ROSSINI ©SETON ROSSINI

Photo By: SETON ROSSINI ©SETON ROSSINI

Photo By: SETON ROSSINI ©SETON ROSSINI

How to Host

The holiday season can feel a bit overwhelming when entertaining or hosting out-of-town guests, so make sure your home is stocked and ready well ahead of time. Whether it's creating welcome kits for overnight guests or making a fully stocked coffee station, the key is preparing in advance. Even something as simple as decluttering your kitchen can make a world of difference when an impromptu holiday party pops up at your place. This season, focus on what's really important: spreading that holiday cheer, and spending time with family and friends.

Create Welcome Kits

Greet your guests with a welcome kit that's sure to make their stay easy and enjoyable. Stock a small basket with bottled water, extra toiletries, magazines or a book, and a welcome note with fun local activities and house info (including the Wi-Fi password). Add a festive touch with a small wrapped gift, like a game or holiday candy.

Make Snacks Accessible

The last thing a hungry guest wants to do is rummage through your kitchen for a snack. Store snacks in plain view in assorted glass canisters around the house. Stock up on savory snack mixes and healthier options such as almonds and dried fruit. Above all, keep them festive and seasonal — everyone loves holiday chocolates!

Stock Up on Drinks

Make sure your houseguests have plenty of beverage options — and stock up before they arrive. Create a designated beverage area with Mason jars, lemon wheels, straws and an ice bucket. Fill a large drink dispenser with iced tea and chill it in the fridge so it's ready when guests arrive. Really feeling the holiday spirit? Add cinnamon, cloves and lemon, or mint and ginger to the water when brewing for a spiced tea.

Fill Your Home with Seasonal Scents

Welcome your guests with scents that make your home feel like holiday headquarters. Create a simple stovetop potpourri with items you already have in your pantry. Combine a few cups of water, a halved orange, cranberries, cinnamon sticks, cloves and a dash of nutmeg in a saucepan. Simmer on low for a few hours, adding more water if needed. Slow cookers work great, too, if you need to reserve that stovetop for cooking holiday meals.

Cookie Decorating Activity

The secret to happy houseguests is keeping them engaged and occupied. Decorating cookies or a gingerbread house is a fun holiday activity and perfect for any age. Bake sugar cookies in advance, and keep them in an airtight container. Divide sprinkles, frosting and candy into small dishes, and create a decorating station with plenty of room for your guests to create their edible masterpieces. Don't forget to create a music playlist before your guests arrive so they can really get into the holiday spirit and decorate while listening to music!

Prepare a Coffee Station

The true sign of an amazing holiday host is having morning coffee ready for guests the moment they wake. Create a designated coffee station with all the necessities: regular and decaf coffee in marked jars, assorted tea bags for the non-coffee drinkers, filters, spoons, sugar, creamers and mugs. A small trash bin will help keep guests from searching all over the kitchen. This way guests can help themselves whenever they need a little pick-me-up.

Prepare the Kitchen

Every kitchen gets extra use during the holidays, especially when you're entertaining guests. Keep an orderly kitchen by decluttering and organizing before they arrive. First, create plenty of counter space by storing any nonessential items in the cabinets (we're looking at you, oversized rooster cookie jar!). Make sure you won't run out of clean plates and cups, and stock up on plenty of napkins. Prewrap cutlery in napkins and store in a basket on the countertop so guests can quickly grab a set when food is served.

Prewrap Gifts

Wrapping presents can be time-consuming, and no host wants to be hidden away, knee-deep in wrapping paper and tape when they could be enjoying the holidays with friends and family. Shop early, stock up on plenty of gift-wrap, tape and ribbon, and wrap in advance. Make sure you purchase a few extra small gifts for the unexpected guest or extra "thank-you" that may come up over the holidays. Wrap note cards, games or small kitchen gadgets in colorful wrapping paper. Keep any extras for stocking stuffers!