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10 Tips for Hosting Unexpected & Holiday Houseguests

Photo: PetiteAmbre | Etsy

The holidays are almost here, so your guest bedroom is probably about to earn its keep. Hosting large groups of people is never easy – especially when crazy Aunt Rita decides to stay for a few extra days – so it’s a good idea to be proactive and organized. We partnered with Jill Pollack, organizational expert and host of HGTV Canada’s show Consumed, to come up with these 10 tips for taking great care of houseguests.

1. Break Out the Hotel Toiletries

If you secretly pocket those mini shampoo and moisturizer bottles from hotels, you’re not alone. But do you ever actually use them? Unexpected houseguests give you an excellent opportunity to use your stash of small toiletries to turn your guest bathroom into a four-star hotel.

2. Kid-Proof Your House

You may not have any little ones in the house right now, but if your guests have young children, it’s a good idea to take some basic safety precautions. Pay special attention to the kitchen, which will likely see a lot of action during the holidays.

3. Prep Your Front Porch

You probably use your side or garage door most of the time, but guests will park on the street and enter through your front door. Do a quick check to make sure your porch lights are working, and have some salt and a shovel handy to keep walkways safe if it snows or freezes overnight.

4. Set Up a Shoe Basket

This is more for you (and your house) than for your guests. Place a big basket near your front door to store shoes. This will prevent dirt from being tracked through your house, which wreaks havoc on your carpets and hardwood floors. If you don’t want to go through the hassle of making everyone take off their shoes, at least throw down some welcome mats so they can wipe the worst of winter off before they explore your house.

5. Test-Drive Your Guest Room

This is an easy way to find out what’s working and what isn’t. Is the temperature comfortable? How about the pillows and mattress? If there are any issues, you may want to balance your heating system or flip your mattress. And don’t forget to wash the pillows and sheets!

6. Check Your Outlets

These days, most people travel with a smart phone, laptop and possibly an iPad. If everyone is going to stay fully charged, you may need to increase your outlet availability. Grab a few extra power strips from storage (or Best Buy) and set them up in common rooms. That way, everyone can get their Angry Birds fix before dinner.

7. Remove Pet Hair

If you have a furry friend in the house, your guests may not find his or her hair quite as endearing as your immediate family does (they might even be allergic). So, go on a quick pet-hair removal mission before people arrive. Our favorite method? A rubber cleaning glove.

8. Clean Out Your Closets

If you’ve been using your closets to hide a bunch of clutter, you should probably take care of the problem now before your niece or nephew gets buried in an avalanche of knickknacks. For step-by-step instructions, read: Organize Your Closet.

9. Demystify Your Bathroom

Have you ever gotten all undressed and ready for a shower in an unfamiliar bathroom only to realize you can’t figure out how the faucet works? It’s a major bummer. If your bathroom has a few quirks (like the hot water only works if the faucet is set just right) make sure you let your guests know before it’s too late.

10. Break Out the Photos

This is a good tip if you’re the kind of host who takes an above-and-beyond approach. Guests will feel more welcome if they can check out some photos of shared experiences and memories that are placed around your house. If you’ve moved all the photos of some people on your guest list into a box somewhere, make sure you pull them out of storage!

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