It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Everyone is getting a jump start on holiday festivities since it’s something for us to look forward to. While we are all anxious to gather with loved ones, but with COVID still on the rise, there are safety measures you should keep in mind before heading to Grandma’s house for a big dinner with the extended family. Here are a few tips to not only keep your holidays safe, but as stress-free as possible.
Take a look at these tips to help you with the kind of preparation, cleaning, and budgeting that turns a good holiday into a great one. Here are five hacks on how to plan a safe, small holiday get-together, and handle any last-minute snags with ease.
Plan It Out
Proper planning is paramount to being a good host, even if it’s only for one or two guests. One of the hardest things about planning a dinner for others (and budgeting) can be figuring out the right amount of food and, if you’re having a grown-up gathering, boozy beverages to keep on-hand. Planning ahead to determine the amounts of food and drink to have on hand will not only save you money by cutting down on waste, but it will also ensure that you’ve got just the right amount of everything to keep your guest(s) happy. To make sure you’ve got your numbers right, figure out how many guests are going to attend, account for a little wiggle room, and use online food and beverage calculators to determine how much to provide.
The next big challenge is scheduling the day of the dinner. How many times have you arrived at someone’s house only to find that the hostess is still throwing on some mascara or putting the finishing touches on the table? The best way to avoid this kind of last-minute rush is to choose what time your guest(s) will start arriving or dinner will be served and work backwards from there to schedule each step of the preparation process. And when we say schedule, we mean schedule everything! That includes the time it is going to take to get the house, the food, and even yourself ready. Plot out breaks for showering, getting dressed, and even relaxing, because, after all, parties are best enjoyed with a well-rested party host.
Get Your House/Backyard Ready For The Holidays
Whether you’re having an outdoor event or a small dinner inside, when tidying things up around the house or yard, try to put yourself in the shoes of someone who doesn’t spend every day there. Because you live in your space all the time, you don’t look at things the way a guest might. Try to take those blinders off and look at your space with a fresh set of eyes. You’d be surprised at what you see. For example, a shorter person might never see their top shelves, but a taller person might be able to see them and notice dust. Take extra care to scope out all of the places people commonly forget to clean, like underneath the toilet seat or behind the radiator. Be sure to wipe down outdoor furniture as well!
Wiping down baseboards is another thing that people miss all the time, but can be crucial, especially if you have pets or if your guests are sensitive to dust and allergens. People with pet allergies can typically immediately sense if there is a pet in the home as soon as they step inside, especially if the home is carpeted. Someone who doesn’t live with pets might notice it as well. To neutralize odors, pet beds can be freshened up with a little baking soda. There are even air fresheners and candles made specifically to neutralize pet smells. Make sure you wash any blankets or carpeting your pets use as well.
And of course, if guests are spending the night, you’ll want to start prepping your guest room a few days in advance, keeping in mind any sensitivities (like the allergies mentioned above) they might have.
Stock Up On Supplies
When hosting guests, always keep extra supplies on-hand to make them feel more comfortable. Put extra bottles of hand sanitizer, and even masks out, to ensure guests feel safer. If you have people staying at your house, leave a small basket of bottled water in the guest bedroom, as well as a bottle or individual packets of Advil or other helpful medicines, like allergy medicine or cold medicine. If someone wakes up in the middle of the night with a headache or an allergy attack, the last thing they want to do is scramble for medicine. It’s also a great idea to put out extra blankets, toothbrushes, and toilet paper in places where guests can easily see and access them. Having those creature comforts and reducing community sharing can make people feel truly at ease in your space.
Know Some Quick Fixes For Last-Minute Mishaps
Of course, you can’t plan for everything. Thankfully, when you’ve hit a last-minute snag or that glass of red took a tumble, many common household items can save the day in a pinch. Say you’re setting the table with your good silver, but notice a tarnish on a few pieces. No silver polish? No problem! Simply soak your flatware in ketchup for five to 10 minutes and rinse in warm water. The acidity of everyone’s favorite french fry condiment will have them looking good as new.
Want to lay out appetizers on your favorite cutting board, but it has a stain? Cut a lemon in half and rub it against the board. Sprinkle on a little salt for extra stain-fighting power. And don’t let greasy kitchen appliances be an eyesore; a simple paste of cornstarch and water and a gentle scrub will have them looking good as new.
Also, water marks on wood can be lifted with mayonnaise. Cover the mark with mayonnaise overnight and wipe it up in the morning.
Last but not least, did you even have a holiday party if someone didn’t spill a little red wine? Never fear – just mix together one tablespoon of dish soap and one cup of hydrogen peroxide and blot the stain with the mixture. Wash with warm water and let it dry. You’ll have your carpet or upholstery back to new in no time.
Most Of All, Make It Fun!
Remember that in spite of all the time you may put into cooking or cleaning, your guests aren’t there to scrutinize your home or your food—they are there to spend time with each other and have fun! Consider having games out to entertain people if they’re sitting around while you’re cooking. Hand-written, holiday-appropriate jokes or prompts at each place setting can get the evening conversation flowing, and a joke or playful pun displayed on the bathroom mirror or in communal spaces keeps spirits bright.
At the end of the day, with a well-researched action plan, adequate prep time, some DIY cleaning hacks, and conversation starters hung by the chimney (or bathroom mirror) with care, your holidays will go off without a hitch.