Is your home ready for holiday visits from your friends and family? Here are a few tips that might help you to prepare.

Some preparations take only a few minutes, while some others may take longer. My advice is to start preparing your home for the holidays now, even if it is only 5 minutes here and there. It really does help.

First thing is to declutter the public rooms and guest room (if you have one) — foyer, kitchen, living room, den, and dining room. Remove anything unnecessary from countertops, dining table, coffee tables, and bathroom counters. Do you really need 10 pillows and a blanket on the couch right now?

I have to admit that I have from time to time hidden my “mess” in my car, the garage, the basement and behind clothes in the closets where family & friends should not be looking. Shopping bags, baskets & suitcases work well. You can take your time going through things later after your guests leave.

The first thing guests see, of course, is your walkway, front door and foyer/entryway so it might be a good place to spend a little extra time and effort there. Make that first impression count. So if you have time, you may want to give the front door a new coat of paint. Polish and tighten door hardware, and oil hinges to prevent squeaks. Add a small rug or welcome mat at the entrance to protect floors & make guests feel welcome. Move your shoes, umbrellas, coats, etc. to another closet or the garage for the time being. Also be sure to replace any burned out light bulbs near the front door and elsewhere throughout the house and maybe add a few solar lights to the front walkway. Remember your family and friends may not be as familiar with your home as you are.

If small children will be visiting, you will need to look at your house through the eyes of someone that might be under 3 feet tall. See what might be enticing to them. Move all toxic cleaners, medicines, matches, breakables to higher out of sight areas. Maybe even ask the parents if they have any extra portable baby gates that they could bring with them. Check to see if any of your doors will need to be latched or propped open to prevent little fingers from being pinched. Have a few toys, books or projects for the kids to do that are age appropriate and something that they are not familiar with so it keeps their attention for a while and makes them feel special too.

Another important thing to ask your guests is whether they or their children have any allergies. In my family we have several generations with severe food allergies, so we always cook those dishes separately, if all, and have them clearly labeled.

As we all know, no matter how large or SMALL our kitchen is – that is where everyone tends to gather! Most people are willing to help with the holiday meals so have some step-stools and chairs nearby. Again, remove anything that is not necessary for prepping that meal or making those cookies & pies. Have brooms, extra sponges, & dish cloths available for your helpers. If children are visiting, find smaller versions of baking dishes, rolling pins and cleaning items so that they too can help.

Have paper towels, toilet paper, towels, and toiletries somewhere easily found by your guests. Even putting them in baskets on the bathroom counter or floor under the towel rack will help guests feel a bit more at home.

And please don’t forget the pets! Do they have any special needs or restrictions? Like don’t ever let Spike outside without a lease!!! or is Bandit really allowed to anything he wants?

Lastly, make sure that the batteries in your smoke detector batteries are new & working. Let each guest know where fire extinguishers are located and how to unlock windows and doors.

Hope that helps you a little to be able to relax and enjoy the holidays with family & friends. Do you have any other tips that might be useful? If so, please share.