We all get used to living with a little bit of dust and grime. Unfortunately, though, the dirt you may be used to may be particularly noticeable to a fresh set of eyes. But there's no need to panic. These types of cleaning tasks can be taken care of well in advance. Two weeks before relatives settle in, take care of the dusting. Focus on areas that tend to get ignored, such as trims, crown mouldings and the tips of shelves and appliances. A week in advance, vacuum, sweep and mop all the floors. A few days before their arrival, do a thorough scrubbing of the washrooms and kitchen. The day before, simply clear away any excess clutter or items that are out of place. When you take care of all these little things in advance, all you'll have to do on the day they arrive is welcome them.
There is always plenty of cooking to be done over the holidays, especially when the folks are visiting. So to make the time they're around less stressful, plan out all the meals ahead of time. Do your grocery shopping in advance so the fridge is fully stocked when they arrive. To make things easier on you, have lots of options for breakfasts and lunches that people can put together themselves. Cereal, toast and jam or butter, muffins, croissants, bagels and instant oatmeal are all great for breakfasts. And keep some bread, deli meats, cheeses and chopped vegetables on hand for lunches. That way all you'll have to worry about when they're around is dinner, and even some aspects of dinner, such as simple vegetable sides, can be prepared in advance and frozen until you need them.
If kids are among the incoming guests, then that's where you'll want to start in terms of figuring out sleeping arrangements. It's crucial that little ones have the quietest space that is far away from the common area so adults can enjoy catching up at night, and kids can actually get some rest. So long as the kids are old enough or parents bring a monitor, this is often the most ideal set-up. From there you can start to plan out which rooms, beds, pullout couches and air mattresses will be best for the rest of the gang. But of course, be prepared for the possibility of visitors seeing flaws in your plan and wanting to change it up. If this occurs, just breathe and let it happen. As long as everyone has someplace to sleep, that's all that matters.
No matter how much you love your family, cooking for, cleaning up after and entertaining a large group of people can be stressful. To keep sane, plan something special for yourself before and after the holiday. Whether that's getting a massage, spending a day in bed reading and watching TV or going out for dinner with your spouse or a friend, do something nice for yourself. This will give you the strength and motivation to make it through those challenging times that can happen when company stays over.
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