YOU Magazine - December 2006 - Preparing for Holiday Guests Ensure Their Happiness and Your Sanity Subscribe to YOU Magazine and other timely market alerts from Laurie Gardner.

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Laurie Gardner     Laurie Gardner
Senior Mortgage Loan Originator
Alaska USA Mortgage Company NMLS Unique ID #204060
Phone: (907)796-1202 / fax 907-929-6711
Fax: WA Consumer Loan Co. License #CL-157293
License: Mortgage License #AK157293
Alaska USA Mortgage Company NMLS Unique ID #204060
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Preparing for Holiday Guests
Ensure Their Happiness and Your Sanity

Preparing for Holiday Guests - Ensure Their Happiness and Your Sanity

When it comes to the holidays, our "to do" list seems to be endless. We shop for gifts, attend parties, host parties, decorate our homes, shop for more gifts, plan menus, send cards... you get the picture.

But just when you think you've got a handle on everything, your doorbell rings. You look through the peep hole and there, standing on the front step, are your relatives. It may just be Mom and Dad at the door, or perhaps it's a whole group of aunts, uncles, and cousins; it really doesn't matter. With suitcases in hand, they are ready for an extended stay at your home. The real question is... are you?

You may be asking yourself, do I really need to "prepare" for guests? By offering up my home, aren't I already doing enough? Besides, company should adapt to my way of doing things, not vice versa.

In the real world, you would be absolutely correct; but this is family we're talking about. It's also the holidays, and, unless you thrive on tension, you may want to think about choosing the path of least resistance. In other words, when it comes to hosting guests during the holidays, prepare yourself and prepare your home.

Preparing Yourself
There's an old saying that says, "Company is like fish. After 3 days, it begins to stink." Sure it's funny, but it's also true. How many times do we have to host, or be hosted, to realize it? The first couple of days are great. Reliving old times, exchanging photos, eating great meals, watching DVDs with the fireplace going it's a lot of fun. But by day three, the distractions dwindle and politeness gets replaced with selfishness.

The lesson here is two-fold. First, shorter stays are better, with a maximum of 3 days being ideal. It's just enough time for everyone to catch up and celebrate, yet it also ends the party on a high note. It's possible that a shorter visit could go so smoothly that you may actually want to do it again next year!

Part two of the lesson applies to those visits that extend past the magic 3-day timeframe. First, you need to recognize exactly what you're up against. Understand that your patience, along with everyone else's, will be tested and the most important thing is for you and your family to have an enjoyable holiday.

Here are three suggestions to help you achieve the proper holiday mindset:

1. Don't take responsibility for every single logistic.
This is a time when your delegating skills can come in handy. The theme is "family", so the idea of pulling together makes a lot of sense. It also reduces the likelihood of anyone feeling underappreciated.

2. Remember that communication is more important than organization.
The holidays can be frantic and filled with many surprises. Good organization will only go so far when it comes to addressing these challenges. Communicating with your family, on the other hand, will be the key to salvaging everyone's sanity.

3. Don't sweat the small stuff.
If something doesn't go as planned, acknowledge it and move on. Very few details have the ability to completely destroy a holiday celebration. Giving them the power to do so is something you can avoid.

Preparing Your Home
Now that you've prepared yourself for the arrival of guests, it's time to prepare your home. Here are some tips to help you keep things running smoothly and ensure that your guests are content.

1. Place an emphasis on the entrance of your home.
Start by delegating the job of walkway and porch maintenance to one of your more "youthful" family members. This is especially important if you live in areas which receive snowfall or are known to freeze over. Keeping the path to your entryway clear of these elements not only makes your home more inviting, it's safer. This is especially important when your guests include grandparents or young children, who are more likely to slip and fall.

You will also want to ensure that all of your walkway, porch, and entryway lighting is functioning properly. This is primarily for safety purposes, but it will also give your home a more inviting look.

If you have a closet in the entryway, you may want to move its contents to another location. Then reserve it for everyone's outdoor gear, such as jackets and umbrellas. This will help to cut down on clutter, and it gives your guests a place to keep their more "grimy" belongings. Speaking of which, a few holiday doormats on the floor of your entryway will give guests a location to place their wet boots.

2. The main living area is where you'll spend most of your time, so plan accordingly.
Start by looking at your floor. Is your carpet dingy or has your hardwood lost its luster? A very inexpensive way to boost the appearance of your front room is to rent a carpet cleaner or a hardwood polisher a few weeks before your guests arrive. If your budget permits, you can hire someone to do this for you. Having a clean carpet or a floor that sparkles makes an excellent backdrop for all of your holiday decorations.

Make sure your seating is in order. Depending upon the amount of space available, you may want to move a chair (or two) from another room into your main area. Oversized throw pillows are great for kids or for anyone who doesn't have a problem sitting on the floor. It's also a good idea to have plenty of throw blankets as well.

Establish your main living area as the center of entertainment by stocking it with DVDs, board games, magazines and other activities. Keep everything appropriate to the ages of your guests, and you'll soon find that you've created a true "family" room.

3. Correctly setting up your guestrooms is paramount to ensuring a happy holiday.
It's important to remember that for a few days, these rooms will become the private bedrooms of your guests. Start by assigning them in order of bedtimes. Those with earlier bedtimes should be placed as far as possible from the main living area. This allows your guests to have a restful sleep while also enabling those who prefer to stay up late the ability to do so.

As with hallway closets, you will want to make sure that bedroom dressers and closets have plenty of space for guests to place their clothes. Also, confirm that each room is equipped with a bedside clock and a reading lamp. Sleeping in a bedroom that's not your own can be somewhat disorienting. These two additions will restore a sense of familiarity.

Freshly laundered sheets and bed linens are vital to your guests' comfort. You may want to use either a lightly scented fabric softener or a natural linen water to bring a fresh smell to the bed. This not only says "clean" to your guests, it promotes relaxation.

4. Don't forget about the bathrooms.
For starters, a thorough, "white glove" cleaning is absolutely in order. If any lights, water fixtures, or fans are in need of repair, it's a good idea to go on and do so.

Stock the guest bathrooms with plenty of toilet paper, facial tissue, air freshener, hand soap, shower soap, and a few basic toiletries. A combination shampoo/conditioner and a tube of toothpaste is a great place to start. Whether you choose to provide anything beyond that is completely up to you. Don't forget to have plenty of clean linens like bath towels, hand towels, and washcloths. This practice will help to avoid needless complaining.

Depending upon your guests, it is sometimes a good idea to assign bathrooms. Anyone with a baby will require a tub in their bathroom, and anyone who makes frequent visits during the night will benefit from a bathroom close to their room. If you are uncomfortable with the idea of assigning bathrooms, you can do so in a somewhat nonchalant way. Subsequent to showing your guests to their rooms, bring them to their assigned bathrooms, showing them the bath linens you've set out for their behalf. Chances are they'll naturally gravitate back to that bathroom.

5. Keeping the kitchen properly stocked will come in handy.
You can begin by phoning your guests prior to arrival. Ask them if there's anything they enjoy eating or drinking on a daily basis. This accomplishes two goals. First, it tells your guests that you're doing your best to be hospitable. Second, it keeps you from having to make impromptu trips to the store.

Speaking of which, plan out as many meals as you can, and shop for the appropriate items as early as possible. Perishable items must be bought in accordance with their use, but be as judicious as possible with trips to the store. This practice will cut down on the number of visits as well as the time spent inside the market. Remember, most people are off from work, and most people have procrastinated their food shopping. Grocery stores tend to be crowded on the days leading up to each holiday.

One last thing; if you have any rarely-used kitchen appliances sitting on your counters, see if you can find a temporary, alternate location. Chances are you'll need every square inch of counter space that you have.

From everyone here at YOU Magazine, we wish you the happiest of holidays and a safe, enjoyable New Year!

License AK# 157293 Washington Consumer Loan Company license# CL-157293 California Residential Mortgage Lending Act, License# 4131067

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