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Prep your home for holiday parties

Jessica Padykula is a freelance writer and editor in Toronto, Canada covering a wide range of  topics for several online lifestyle publications. She is a regular contributor for SheKnows, covering travel, style, relationships, health and...

No-fail party prep tips

'Tis the season for non-stop hosting duties – is your home guest-ready? Whether you’ll be planning and prepping for big dinners, intimate gatherings or mid-size seasonal soirees, the key to executing every party perfectly is in the planning. To help you get your home in shape for any event you’re hosting, we put together some simple tips to prep your home for holiday parties.

Woman pouting champagne at Christmas party

De-clutter

Quick tip: It's also a good idea to clear clutter off of as many surfaces in your house as you can. This means bathroom counters, coffee and end tables and even your kitchen counter. Everything will look much neater and more polished, and you can utilize the space better once guests arrive, especially counter space which will be at a premium once the party gets going.

We all let things pile up and spill out of drawers and cupboards but there's no place for clutter at a holiday party. Now is the time to get organized and create a clean, clear space for guests. The more organized your space, the easier it will be for guests to mingle and for you to create the atmosphere you really want -- not to mention how much easier it is to decorate your home when you create more space. We suggest getting rid of anything you no longer need or use. Now is the perfect time to donate unwanted goods to charities helping those in need.

Create storage

Having a houseful of guests also means having a houseful of heavy coats and boots. Chances are, many of those guests will also be toting gifts, which means you need storage space for all the extra bags, boxes and winter gear that your home will soon be inundated with. Move any coats, jackets or shoes you and your family aren't currently using and put them in the basement or in a bedroom closet if you have extra space.

Prep the guest room

If you know you'll have guests staying with you on one or more occasions this holiday (or even if you think you might), it's a good idea to get the guest bedroom ready. Clear out the clutter and create storage (as mentioned above) so guests have somewhere to store their belongings; dust, clean, change the sheets on the bed and add some small comforts such as a book or two, an extra blanket, towel, pitcher and glass for water, and some travel-size toiletries (soap, shower gel, lotion) to really make guests feel at home.

Invest in extra seating

Quick tip: Think too about adding some folding trays, card tables or stools on which guests can rest their drinks if your surface space is minimal.

The last thing you need once guests arrive is to realize you don't have enough chairs. Even if you're not quite sure what your final head count will be for various parties, stock up on some extra seating anyway. Either rent some or pick up some simple folding chairs from IKEA or Target. They can be left folded up and kept out of the way until you need them.

Enhance your entryway

Welcome guests in style by jazzing up your entryway. After all, it is the first thing people see as they walk in. Large vases featuring festive poinsettias, or indoor planters filled with branches wrapped in white twinkle lights or red and silver bows will anchor the space and look stylishly seasonal. Light some candles lightly scented with cinnamon, nutmeg or pine and place a few freshly wrapped gift boxes on a table or bench to further amp up the festive atmosphere.

Plan your menus

If you haven't already, now is the time to plan your holiday menu (or menus if you're throwing more than one bash). Make a list, check it twice and then buy whatever non-perishables you need. If there's anything you can make now, freeze and then bake (casseroles come to mind), do it. The more food planning and prep you can do now, the easier your life will be once the big day arrives.

More entertaining tips

How to be the best hostess
Simple home entertaining ideas to welcome guests
The dos and don'ts of easy holiday entertaining

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