Prepping for the Holidays

 

This year’s holiday season may look a little different, and celebrations may not be as large as in years past. Instead of a big group, you might choose to have a few close family members and friends over for a small gathering. Even if you love to host and are excited for the get-together, you may be stressing out about the work, prep and even decorating that will go into the event.

No worries, says Melissa Maker, cleaning expert and host of Clean My Space. She has tips that will make prepping for a gathering a little less stressful and more relaxed.

Start with a clean kitchen.

This is one of the most important tips when it comes to preparing to have guests come over. “People feel kind of uncomfortable when they walk in and the kitchen is scattered, messy and all over the place,” says Maker. “They feel like they’re interrupting something. Plus, having a clean kitchen makes it much easier for the host to manage the flow of the day.”

That clutter that’s been sitting on your kitchen counter or dining room table — get rid of it! If you're pressed for time, move it to a low-traffic area of the house where you can sort through it later. Next, make sure to unload the dishwasher beforehand and keep the sink clean and free of dirty dishes so things don’t pile up throughout the morning, afternoon and evening. (You can even have your spouse or kids take over dishwashing duty so you, as the host, have time to focus on other tasks.) Having a clean sink and kitchen makes things easier when it’s time to clear the table — plates and trays can go straight into the dishwasher and you can simply move on to your next course.

Finally, wipe down countertops and tables with disinfectant cleaners as you go to make sure your kitchen and dining room are safe from bacteria and viruses.

Timing is everything.

When you’re at work, you may create a work-back schedule for projects, where you start with your deadlines and then figure out when different steps in the process are due. You can incorporate this strategy into your prep plan for any gatherings. “It’s all about being organized,” says Maker. “Knowing what time things have to go in the oven to be reheated or what time you have to start cooking a particular dish. Also consider when you need to set the table or start plating things.”

Think to yourself, “If my guests are coming at five, this is my work-back schedule.” This way your appetizers will be ready, you can have dinner in the oven, and everything will be flowing smoothly and ready to go. “Having that sort of agenda for the day or the evening is going to help you stick to a schedule,” adds Maker.

Set up your table and kitchen.

Ask yourself, do you want a formal or informal setting? If you don’t have a big table and are comfortable with being relatively informal, you can serve food buffet-style from the kitchen. Or if you want to be a little more formal but have a small dining room table, you can have certain family members help serve food. For example, dad can serve the appetizers to the guests, while mom is in charge of the side dishes. Tiered trays are helpful as well because you can stack food upwards, says Maker. This will allow you to fit more items on the table without the clutter.

Add small decorative touches to your home.

“What makes most sense is for hosts to stay true to their aesthetic when they’re decorating,” says Maker. She’s a big proponent of buying less, repurposing items and finding little ways to make people feel special, without necessarily having to go over the top or spend a lot of money. For example, if you have beautiful handwriting, you can make name tags for each guest and set them on the table. Or fold your napkins and then tie ribbon around them with the name tag attached.

Additionally, “you can never go wrong with flowers,” says Maker. “The cool thing about flowers is you can always pick something that’s seasonal or matches your color scheme.” You can have a beautiful centerpiece on the table that can be moved off to the side while you’re eating and smaller complementary displays that are interspersed throughout. And, if you want to set the ambience, light some unscented candles and place them throughout the house.

Don’t let guests go home empty-handed.

Have takeout boxes or compostable to-go containers ready so your guests can take food home. Or make goodie bags of dessert that they can eat later. You can even divvy up your floral arrangements and send people home with those as well.

When people come over to your house, they never want to feel like they’re imposing. They want to feel relaxed and welcomed. When you’re prepared for a gathering, your guests will feel like they can enjoy themselves and have a good time. And when you’re organized, you can also take part in the event instead of running around the whole time, says Maker. “It’s your party too; you should have fun.”

But before you start planning your event and putting together a guest list, make sure to check the rules from your county or state health department about the number of people you can safely invite to an indoor gathering. In case you do opt for inviting more than just a few close friends, find out more about CDC rules on gatherings.

Any information contained in these articles has been gathered from sources believed to be reliable, but the accuracy of such information is not guaranteed and Meritage Homes disclaims any responsibility for such information. From time to time, Meritage Homes makes available articles and information that it believes may be of intertest to the reader. The views of the respective authors or persons quoted in such articles, whether or not specific attribution is made herein, are those of such person(s) and do not necessarily represent those of Meritage Homes, which accepts no responsibility for such views. The mention of specific products and/or services in any article does not constitute an endorsement or approval of such products and/or services by Meritage Homes, and such products and/or services may not be available with respect to every, or any, Meritage home. Visit http://www.meritagehomes.com/featuredescriptions for information and disclaimers about energy-efficient features and associated claims pertaining to Meritage homes. All material in these articles is copyrighted and no part may be reproduced, in whole or in part, without written permission of the copyright holder. Meritage Homes®, Life. Built. Better.®, and Setting the standard for energy-efficient homes® are trademarks of Meritage Homes Corporation. ©2020 Meritage Homes Corporation. All rights are reserved.