Hosting a Christmas Party

While it may be tempting to beg you another family member to host the Christmas party this year, inviting the whole clan to your home and hosting a party may instead make your holiday merrier and brighter than you could imagine.

Getting Ready for Visitors
Inviting the family over gives you a non-negotiable deadline for cleaning and organizing. No more leaving the boxes in the guest room until spring. No more avoiding grouting the tub. The arrival of guests will motivate you to tackle the tasks you've been putting off.

An added benefit of not planning to go anywhere and staying put is you have extra reasons to be inventive. Explore all those rustic-looking farm stands around town to see if you can find a nice wreath for your door. Take a look at a local craft store, and get your kids into the spirit by asking them to help you make decorations. You can even fill a bowl with apples from the local orchard for the ultimate Martha Stewart touch.

Take the time to look through what you have. Show off an old set of guest towels that may have been buried in a storage box in the closet. Polish up silverware that you may have forgotten. Not everything has to be shiny and new; all you need to do is show that you have put some thought into the holidays and are thinking about the comfort of your guests.

However, all this cleaning and organizing takes time. Host guests in your new home only if you feel confident that you can accomplish all these tasks before visitors arrive, or you might wish for those tickets to Aruba.

The Mother-in-Law Test
There is only one real test of whether your home is ready to receive company. Pretend your mother-in-law just stepped into your new home for the first time. What will she see as soon as she walks in the door that you might miss during a typical day? Is there a tile loose underfoot? Does your doorbell even ring? What will she see in the kitchen that is invisible to you as you're rushing to get lunch boxes packed or dinner ready? It's hard to notice the cluttered countertop or the chipped dishes when you're busy unloading groceries.

Role play with a good friend and get his or her advice on how you can make a few easy changes that make all the difference. Try to get every room to pass the Mother-in-Law Test. The final grade doesn't have to be an A+; just a passing grade is fine for now. The Mother-in-Law Test shouldn't make you feel bad, but it should point out important to-do items that you might have missed. Most important, it should feel right for you, not the relatives. Define your own sense of comfort and style, and let your home reflect your personality.

Smells of the Season
Every real estate agent knows that a house that smells yummy will sell faster than a house that smells like a dog, a cigarette or mold. A loaf of freshly baked bread or a roast in the oven will smell inviting. If you're better at buying from the ready-made food section of the grocery store, invest in some nice winter-inspired potpourri, simmer some cider on the stove top, or light a sizzling fire in the fireplace to please the olfactory senses of your guests. Scented candles can also do wonders to create ambiance. People will remember how a home looked and felt for far longer than they will remember a particular dish.

Planning the Meal
Whether you are planning a cocktail hour or a full meal, put together the basics for a menu. Balance out the meal with family classics, and throw in a few new dishes for variety. Don't be afraid to ask your guests for input, especially if you are expecting vegetarians or anyone who might have a food allergy. They'll appreciate that you are thinking of them.

If you are too busy preparing your home for guests, you can hold a potluck or delegate some tasks to your guests, especially if this is your first time hosting at the holidays. When holding a potluck, let your guests know explicitly in advance, and ask them what they plan to bring so you don't have seven pumpkin pies and no salad course.

Make Your House Your Home
Besides making your home more attractive, there are two overriding reasons you should host at least once during a holiday season. You will feel more than ever that your house is your home. Our minds and hearts play tricks on us so that, when we think about past Thanksgivings or Christmases, we may simply feel like it was just right where we last lived. Second, pleasant holidays start with family and friends, and you can return the favor whenever they've had you over for the holidays.

Dress up your house, lavish it with warmth and attention and it will pay you back throughout the year, giving you comfort and refuge from the rest of the world. You took ownership, but now is your chance to let your house know how you feel about it. The more you invest in creating new memories, the richer they will be for you and your family.

The holiday season comes once a year. For some this is too often; for others, not often enough. Don't let the opportunity pass to show your family what you can do and to build warm memories in your home.

Article provided by Homesteader

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