By Caroline Bujold
Hello there, hope your holiday preparation is going well.
Last week in Holiday tips roundup – Part 1 I talked about traditions and gift giving. This week, I tackle the tasks of preparing your home for guests, preparing yourself to be a guest and show you a few of our decorations.
4. If you’re going to stay home, take time to organize
Will you be home for the holidays? Are family and friends coming over? If so, take some time to organize your space. Just a few minutes per day will have you ready and relaxed instead of frantically running around your house trying to get everything done the day of your gathering. Pick one small space per day and spend 15-30 minutes cleaning out: the front closet, the extra bedroom, the linen closet, etc.
For extra thoughtful tips, check out Peter Walsh’s latest article 12 Days of Holiday Decluttering. A few tips are the regulars: get your pots ans pan in order, make room in the extra bedroom, but other tips will make your guests feel like a million bucks …
Day 11 – Get snacky – Preparing a snack station is such a great idea. Getting hungry between meals happens to me all the time, enough times that I usually bring snacks of my own when I visit family and friends. I don’t want to be a burden to the host who is already providing amazing food, but I know I will probably get cranky if I don’t have snacks between meals, or before brunch is ready (by 7am I’m usually starving). So to me this is a great idea.
Day 12 – Turn Your Guests into Tourists – Last time we visited my dear friend Anne in France, she had prepared all kinds of brochures and pamphlets in a binder on what to do in the region. It made it easy and quick to decide what we wanted to do together, letting us spend time exploring the many wonders of her adopted town. How thoughtful is that?!
5. If you’re going to travel, take time to organize
Having to take the road or fly to get home or visit family is at best tiring, at worst overwhelming. It’s important to be realistic about your travel plans.
I remember one year being completely exhausted because I planed to visit my family and my (then) boyfriend’s family over the Holidays. These short visits had us drive about 2 000 km in a week, on winter road conditions that were less than ideal. Not only was it unpleasant, it was sketchy at times with temperatures dipping below -30C for one particular eerie driving day. Let’s just say I never did that again.
Regardless if you’re going to go great distances to a tropical destination, or just a few hours away to a cabin in the woods Apartment Therapy has a pre-departure check list to help you make sure the time you spend away is restful.
Don’t forget to make arrangements for your pets, your bills and your mail. If you live in a city, as we do, where you have to clear the snow around your house, have someone shovel your sidewalks and entrance, put some lights on a timer and have a friend or neighbour keep watch. It’s always comforting to know someone will look after your home.
6. Be realistic about your decorations, DIYs and everything being perfect – Less is more
I like decorating for the Holidays. But I’ve been in spaces where it feels more claustrophobic than festive from too many decorations. Don’t feel like you have to put up every item you own.
When you live in a small space, you don’t want to make your home look cluttered by adding over-decorating. Sticking to a colour palette will make the whole thing look classy and sleek. Using small potted trees in place of a huge tree, as we did, could do the trick. This House & Home video provides ideas to showcase greenery, from a full grown tree to smaller options.
This year we opted out of buying a tree. I felt like having subtle hints of the season, without overwhelming the living room.
I usually try to reuse what I have and only buy a few new items. I try to limit all of our ornaments to one storage box; all our lights go in another one. This helps me be realistic about how much I keep. The items I no longer want to keep, I bring to the ReUse Centre.
We have glass jars and serving trays around the house that I’ve collected over time. I just replaced the content with some sparkly ornaments. Once the Holidays are over, I will simply switch the content back to what it was.
As for the new decorations, the nutcracker and reindeer were on sale and the trees are from a grocery store. If the trees survive – I’m not always good with plants – they will be planted in containers and put outside next summer and could be reused next Holiday season or offered as gifts.
We don’t own an artificial tree and I suggest you DO NOT buy one if you have no place to store it later. If you’re debating buying fresh or artificial, do your research and learn how to choose your eco-friendly tree depending on your situation.
7. Take time for yourself to relax and reflect on your year
The Holidays are also about catching up with yourself, so schedule time for that purpose. Between your office party, time with friends, shopping and family parties, it’s easy to forget yourself.
Most importantly, don’t fret too much about getting everything done and looking perfect. People will remember time spent with you, not necessarily what your decor was about.
Take time to relax, enjoy the good food, congratulate yourself on all your accomplishments and celebrate with your loved ones.
Happy Holidays 🙂