Thanksgiving and the Ohio State (boo) game are in the rearview mirror, but the holiday season is only gearing up — here are tips to get you and your Ann Arbor home ready for the upcoming winter holiday festivities.
Staging your home
Think of it like staging your home for selling — you want it to look its best. Before totally decking your halls, do a purge. Decluttering now will give you more room for holiday decor, and will give it space to truly shine. Pick up some some storage bins, and you can repurpose them later to organize and store your holiday decorations easily. Or just do what home photographers do and stow the knick-knacks in laundry baskets.
Pay attention to your entryway, indoors and out. Clear the walkways, clean up around the front door, and be sure that any lights or decorations leave enough room for guests to maneuver through the door — especially if they’re bearing gifts, potluck offerings, or hauling luggage.
Make room in your coat closet for guests’ outerwear, and give them a place to stow umbrellas, hats, or gloves. Get a larger entryway rug to absorb the snow, slush or salt that may come in on visitors’ boots, and a chair or bench for removing the footwear is a nice touch.
Check the appliances
If you cook or bake up a storm during this season, you’re working hard, and so is your kitchen. Show it a little love, and a little extra care. Clean your microwave, paying special attention to the vents, especially if it sits above your range. A degreaser like Simple Green works well and is non-toxic, or you can make your own with this white vinegar-based formula.
Degrease the vents on your microwave, especially if it acts as the ventilation for the stove.
Clean out the fridge and freezer, and then wash the surfaces. Tackle the stovetop, too, but skip the oven. According to Popular Mechanics, the stress of running the self-clean function on your oven could cause it to fail — repairing or replacing during the rush of the holidays will only add to your own stress.
Make room at the inn
If you’ve got extended family descending on your home for overnight visits, take some time to make sure they’ll be comfortable.
Provide a place in their room for luggage and a place to hang clothes — even adding some hooks to the back of the door will help.
If they’ll be sharing a bath, clear out a drawer in the vanity to create space for their toiletries and shaving kits, or provide a dorm-style shower caddy.
Also have basic toiletries on hand for those that forget — toothbrushes, toothpaste, razors, shampoo and lotion.
Have enough sheets, towels, and blankets.
Clear out a drawer or two in the bath your guests will be using to keep clutter at a minimum.
If your guest room is also your home office (hey, it happens), clean up any paperwork. It’s not just to declutter, leaving any private papers around like your bank statement is just awkward. Make it feel like a bedroom by adding at least one nightstand, with a lamp and a place for a glass of water. A power strip or multi-plug outlet will enable your guests to power their phones, tablets, and laptops.
When the number of visitors exceeds your bed capacity, the good news is inflatable mattresses have come a long way. Look for a double-height inflatable mattress — it’s high enough that your guests won’t feel like they’re camping on the floor. Consumer Reports likes the 17-inch-high Hi-Loft from Simmons Beautyrest the best in this category.
If you’re setting up the bed on a slab floor — like in the basement (hey, that happens, too), be aware that the cold air will creep up from the floor through the air in the mattress. It makes for a frigid sleep. But a set of flannel sheets and a featherbed mattress topper will keep the cold air from seeping in. Add a comforter or quilt, and your guests will be comfortable and cozy.
Work ahead and stock up
Stock your freezer with made-ahead casseroles, bagels or breakfast breads, and any side-dishes you can make ahead of time. Having a selection of frozen appetizers at the ready can feed hungry drop-ins. Have back-ups of coffee and tea — there’s little that’s more disappointing in that moment than having only a half-cup left in the coffee-maker and no more for another pot for the last one up in the morning.
Take some time out!
It’s true that the holiday season can be a gauntlet to run, especially if your home is ground zero for the celebrations. But amid the toil and hurry, take some time for yourself. During the crush of holiday shopping, take a moment to take in the beauty of the lights and decorations; if you’re baking, savor how good the cookies smell just out of the oven. And, despite these tips, if your home isn’t perfectly turned out, don’t stress — embrace your family and friends and enjoy the warmth and love this season brings.