At first, it seems like a lot of fun. You plan the menu, you create decorations with the kids, and you even pick some festive yet soft background music for your holiday meal. Then reality sets in. Countless family members are coming to visit - some are staying for a few days, maybe even a few weeks. What happens if all of the togetherness becomes a bit too much? Top that off with the stresses that cleaning the house and preparing the big feast bring, and you might be feeling a little less holiday cheer.
But it's all doable, we promise.
1. Stock Up on Essentials
With a house full of family, you'll be moving quickly through food and supplies. Stock up on essentials like eggs, bacon, milk, cereal, peanut butter, juice, bread, snacks, toilet paper, paper towels, and alcohol. It's not going to be easy to prepare large meals for everyone, so you should also have some quick dinners on hand too, such as pasta and sauce, pre-made lasagna, frozen pizzas, frozen prepared meals, and already-cooked whole chickens. For breakfast, have plenty of easy-to-access foods available, like bagels and cream cheese.
2. Ensure Comfort
Help your guests to be comfortable and feel at home in your house. Be the best host ever by creating personal care kits that include travel toothpaste and toothbrushes, tissues, facial wipes, Q-tips, moisturizer, shampoo, conditioner, soap, and even feminine hygiene products. One of your guests is likely to forget one or more of these key items, and your thoughtfulness will save them a trip to the store. Wise Bread, dedicated to helping you "live large on a small budget," also suggests stocking slippers and putting out plenty of throw blankets to keep your guests cozy.
3. Create Bedrooms
Even without enough bedrooms to accommodate each of your guests, they can still have their privacy. An air mattress can be used to create a bedroom in your home office and that crib mattress sitting in the basement will work great for any small child on the floor in a room with his parents. Check with friends to see if they have any extra air mattress or roll-away cots you can borrow. Just remember, even if your guests are sleeping on the foldout couch in your living room, treat the living room as a bedroom while they are using it. Stay out as much as possible.
4. Put Away Your Belongings
Especially if kids are coming to town, or guests are sleeping in your office, you'll want to put your private papers away - including bills and checkbooks. Store away breakable items or items that are important to you. Active children and lots of people increase the chances of possessions being accidentally broken.
5. Create a Kid Zone
Kids get bored quickly. If you have even just a corner of space available, use it to create a kid-friendly zone. You can stock it with Play-doh, board games, coloring books, crayons, reading books, DVDs, and holiday crafts to keep the little ones occupied and happy.
6. Plan Outings
No one wants to be stuck indoors all week. Create a list of fun activities that guests can participate in during their visit. It can include everything from a play happening downtown to the perfect local spot for sledding. Being able to take breaks from the family will be important for everyone, including you. Make sure you get out of the house too.
7. Cook Ahead
Preparing the holiday feast with all those people around is going to be tough. To save you stress and time on the big day, make food ahead of the game. Choose a side or a dessert to make a day or two before and you'll be glad you did. You can also ask any guests who are only coming for the day to bring some food as well.
8. Create a System
There's going to be a lot of garbage and a lot of dirty towels moving through your home while guests are in town. Have a system in place so that guests know where they can put their laundry. For example, you can provide each guest with a hamper. Have a specific spot set aside for shoes, and for hanging up coats. Make it easy for them to find the recycling and garbage cans so they can take out the trash to help out. You can even assign jobs each day of the week if your family is up to it. Uncle Joe does the dishes on Friday night. Aunt Jane does them on Saturday morning. Depending on your family personalities, it could work out well or not so well. Choose your house rules carefully.
9. Have Fun
Now that you're ready for your guests to arrive, don't forget to have fun. Relax, it's the holidays. Don't spend your time worrying too much or over planning everything. When your guests are gone, you'll want to be left with happy memories, not regrets.