5 Tips on Hosting a Holiday Gathering at Home

All holidays are a wonderful opportunity to get together with friends and family, and typically have us paying a little extra attention to our living spaces since we’ll be trying to accommodate more people than are usually in our home. I’ve always loved Thanksgiving, maybe because it’s one holiday that is so food-centered and it’s a great opportunity to make a huge bird! But, with all the focus on food, if you’re the one hosting it there’s also a lot more to think about in terms of your home’s environment. That can be stressful, but it doesn’t have to be if we’re somewhat prepared and think about about the details that can simply make our guests feel more relaxed because they see us as more relaxed in our own home. 

  1. Clean up Your House. Why is this so important? Clutter is stressful, yes. Too many things around can leave us mentally drained, yes. Everything we have has to be cleaned, maintained and we also often worry about things breaking and costing us more money. That alone is a discussion to write about, but cleaning up for guests is another thing- it amounts to having some respect for the people you’ve invited into your home and into your world. If they see a dirty or messy space, they can almost feel the stress of the environment, which isn’t very comforting. I know it can be a challenge, especially at the last minute between work and kids’ activities and trying to cook a big meal, but ask the kids to help out, ask your spouse, ask family, or hire help if you can. It will make you and your guests feel so much better.
  2. Prepare as Much as Possible of the Food Ahead of Time (if not ALL of it). I used to be the kind of cook who would be okay with dinner cooking as they arrived. And then when I designed my kitchen to be an open kitchen style, I really had more of a reason to clean everything up before people came, which could only happen if most of the dishes were done or already set in the oven and left me time to clean up the workspace. It makes the environment feel so much more inviting and you are also able to focus on your guests rather than be distracted with more cooking. If you have any last-minute additions to make to things like salads, most guests are happy to help and talk at the same time. Now that can be fun and relaxing.
  3. Have a Comfy Space for Guests to Sit & Relax. I feel like there’s nothing worse than spending hours and hours at someone else’s house and being uncomfortable. Whether the house is too hot or too cold (and you didn’t dress appropriately), it can make for a not-so-fun experience. As a host or hostess, it really is up to you to read your guests to see how comfortable they feel. No, you’re not a hotel, but having guests is an honor and joy so make them as happy as you can while they’re under your roof. If you really want to spoil them, be sure to have the most comfortable furniture and invite them to relax and sit in it. In this case they may never leave!

    This Pavo sectional from Arhaus is such a beautiful, cozy set to have in your family room. Toss some oversize throw pillows and fuzzy blankets to welcome your guests with warmth and coziness and let them retreat after the Thanksgiving meal, watching movies and sitting around talking and catching up with one another, maybe even taking a nap. The section shown above comes in a variety of colors and fabric types, too. 

  4. Have Some Activities for the Kids. I don’t have kids, but whenever I have guests over I try to make sure I have something for the kids who are coming: coloring books and crayons are almost always winners, treat bags, puzzles, soft toys, etc. Why? Because you never know which kids will come alone, which parents won’t bring something for the kids to stay occupied, or which of your own kids’ toys just won’t be entertaining enough – and that can mean a visit cut short by parents who want to make sure the kids aren’t unhappy or bored at your house.
  5. Keep the Pets Happy, Too. This can mean a lot of things. Dogs and cats are especially notorious for either being annoyed by guests or terrified by them. They can also be a little too happy to see new people (though not always the cats, I have had many cats from friends and family members’ homes jump all over me for some reason). Almost always it’s other people’s dogs who are pretty eager to introduce themselves. I don’t mind it as long as the pets don’t bite, but if you have guests with allergies or a fear of animals it can be a pretty uncomfortable situation and combination of people and pets. The best thing to do is to keep your animals in a happy, safe place for the duration that your guests are visiting and also tell your guests a little about the animals just in case they do come face to face with them and get afraid, jumpy or just a little too close. Hissing cats and barking or biting dogs are not something everyone is used to.

Do you have anything to add? Please share your own tips and ideas on being a good host or hostess in the comments below.

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