Stress Less this Christmas- Hostess with the mostess edition

Being a hostess is hard for me. I'm not sure why, it's just not one of those things that comes naturally to me. I love having people over, I'm just not that great at playing that role once they get here. People that know me well, know that if they want something to drink, they are more than welcome to help themselves, because without meaning to be rude, hours can pass and I will forget to offer a beverage. And I'm constantly guilty of committing hostess faux pas, like running out of clean dishes, or silverware, or napkins.
TV stoffen met plumeau / Dusting the television with a feather-brush
via Flickr creative commons

A few months ago, my best friends surprised me with a weekend visit for my Birthday. My hubby knew that he had successfully pulled off the surprise, because when they got here the house was not AT ALL ready for company. Luckily, these are the types of friends that love me even if my bathrooms are dirty- but they can attest to the fact that I was scrambling every day to find suitable guest toiletries. What, nobody wants to use the Sponge Bob soap and the Dora toothpaste? Come on guys!

For many people, this time of year brings a slew of visitors- whether it be for a quick afternoon get together, or an extended holiday visit- we need to be prepared. Given my record, I thought I'd share a few tips of what NOT to do when hosting visitors, and then next this week I'll show you one tiny step that I did make to try to make my house more guest ready.

Huisvrouw met mattenklopper / Housewife with carpet-beater
via flickr creative commons
1) Don't plan too far ahead.
This goes along with my feeling that you don't need 100 days to prepare for Christmas. SOME planning is good-like creating a meal plan (ask ahead for dietary restrictions if possible), but you probably need to plan to do your shopping a realistic time frame before the event, or someone in your family will end up eating that fancy chocolate you bought "just for the company." Same thing for cleaning....I mean, if you have children, don't plan on running the vacuum more than 15 min before you guests arrive, or you might as well not bother.

2) Don't assume that you guests know where anything is.
If you're a lazy hostess like me, I handle the problem this way: I leave most things out in plain view and give people a quick orientation when they arrive.

"Glasses are on the counter, soda is in the fridge, help yourself to whatever." Who am I kidding, I'm from the Midwest, I'd probably say "Pop" instead of "Soda."

It's also a good idea to leave an extra roll of toilet paper on top of the back of the toilet, because no matter how full your roll is, it will somehow get used up during the course of a party- and if it's not out, people will start digging through your cabinets. (No worries, because I'm sure yours are immaculate just like mine!)

3) Don't draw attention to your home's flaws.
This is CLASSIC, and we are all guilty of it. As soon as someone walks through the door, we slide into the conversation an apology about the state of something. Whether it's an incomplete home renovation, an outdated piece of furniture, or a missed housekeeping matter, we figure that if we bring it up and joke about it, it'll take the pressure off of someone noticing it on their own and thinking, "What in the heck happened over there?"

But you know what, 9 times out of 10, the guest NEVER would have even noticed if we hadn't brought it up. Even if they are staring right at it- and we say, "Oh my gosh, can you believe how dusty that picture frame is? I guess the maid forgot to dust that corner!" Your guest was honestly probably just admiring the picture inside the frame.

4) Don't neglect your normal routines.
If you'll be having visitors for an extended period of time (like more than 1 day), don't plan on spending every waking minute entertaining them. Make sure that you're still taking a few minutes here and there to work on laundry, or do the things you would normally do. Get everyone set up with breakfast and then lace up your running shoes and excuse yourself for a quick jog or trip to the gym. And don't assume that your guests wouldn't want to be a part of your normal routine- Grandma would probably love to be a guest at her grand-daughter's ballet class.

5) Don't stress too much
The point of having company is to visit with each other, not inspect the premises with a white glove, so do what you can and then put on a smile. I'd rather have a happy hostess than one who is completely burned out from home preparations.

Ok, so there's my Don't List, and I'm counting on the rest of you to help out with the "Do List." My Mother in Law arrives in 2 days. What is your best "get ready for company" advice?

Sharing on for 52 weeks of organizing.


  1. so very very true!! I was laughing out loud at the "don't vacuum unless it is 15 minutes out" SO TRUE~!

    I always struggle with the daily routine loss...I can never be"off" when guests are here, so I get stressed about all the stuff I have to "do" and then don't enjoy the company...vicious cycle!

  2. Be yourself. Don't sweat the small stuff. Donna is coming to see you and Rob and the girls. If she notices dust or dirty laundry, so what? The purpose of the visit is family. That being said, I wish you the best on her visit. Love, Mom

  3. This year I've decided to keep Christmas super stress free by not hosting anything at all! I'm baking cookies to take with me when I go to parties/gatherings and I'm keeping my gathering schedule light. I'm being very picky about how and who I spend my time with this Christmas - it's making this holiday season a breeze.

  4. My preparations for guests actually start the day AFTER the last lot leave. I wash the bed linen and towels from the guest room and give the floors a good mop. Once the washing has dried, the bed is made up immediately so that it is ready to go at 1 minute's notice, the towels are folded and placed in the bedside drawers along with a new (wrapped) bar of soap, freshly washed flannel (facewasher), small bottles of shampoo, conditioner and moisturiser, and a small box of tissues.

    The day before the guests arrive, I neatly stack each "kit" on the end of each bed and open the windows for the day to air the rooms.

    When guests first arrive, I give them a tour of the house, show them where to find the cups/mugs/bowls/plates/etc. and then introduce them to the "drinks fridge", with clear instructions that they are to help themselves to anything they find in there. The fridge is an open-for-all - there's always snacks, wine, beer, mixers, juice, water bottles, etc.

    That way the guests & visitors feel at home, but they also don't interfere with my stock levels to keep my menu-plan running smoothly (I have *MY* fridge that everyone knows is purely for my ingredients & produce).

  5. Ask your guests to bring something to share. I'm hosting a Christmas party next weekend and others are providing nibblies, salad and dessert. I'll just buy a Christmas ham and cool some drinks. Done!

  6. I want to know how to accomplish have the house clean and the food ready at the same time. With kids. This stresses me out every time!



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