Growing up, we have always had that one generous aunty that hosted the whole family every Christmas. All kids would be sent to her place immediately after closing school and it would be a reunion with all my cousins and entire extended family. It is just the other day, when am all grown up that I was contemplating on how she managed all that. I still cannot fathom.
Are you the generous aunty this year? Will friends and family be coming to spend the holidays and probably a few days in your house ready to use all your guest-room towels, and partake of your hospitality? Make your home cozy and comfortable for guests and keep celebrations going smoothly by following these easy tips and tricks for holiday hosting.
There is nothing as irritating and disgusting as hosting people in a house with no water. The un-flushed toilets, the piled up sink, dirty compound…the list is filthy and endless. Whereas here in Nairobi you never know when water rationing will strike, be on the safe side by harvesting water. Fill up the tanks, and if you have underground tanks, the better. Make sure you have back up so that everything will run smoothly.
- Throw Blankets
You can never have enough of these. Especially now that the rains are here and evenings might be colder than usual. Nothing is cozier on a cold rainy night than a few wooly throw blankets on the living room sofa. You do not have to get very expensive ones. Make sure you do your shopping right and get good ones enough for a reasonable price. Have them on hand for when the kids get tired and need a nap, or for your Aunt Lucy’s cold feet.
Speaking of cold feet, another hosting tip is to have a variety of slippers by the door. You can buy these in any supermarket. Just make sure you have a variety of sizes for everyone including kids.
Make sure all your bulbs are in good condition. Buy extra ones if need be. Also make sure you are well prepared for when a blackout hits. With the heavy rain blackouts are bound to happen. Buy lamps and enough candles – you never know! You might have an unplanned candle lit dinner!
Make your guests feel more at home by having a variety of drinks available on the kitchen counter. Packets of hot chocolate and tea and a flask of hot coffee will be good for cold nights. Also have soft drinks and wine somewhere for that extra holiday treat.
- Guest Necessities
Make sure guests have easy access to all the necessities — extra towels, bottles of water and soap. If you have many guests, put towels in a big basket by the bathroom door so guests can help themselves.
Help children and the young-at-heart to feel right at home by setting out board games on a low table in the living room. Traditional games like Scrabble, chess and monopoly are easy to play.
- Play Soft Music
Have soft music playing in the background to set a festive mood —mostly holiday classics.
- Keep Toilet Paper Stocked
Keep fresh rolls of toilet paper visible and within easy reach, so guests have no excuse to go rummaging through your bathroom cabinets.
Some guests (like pregnant women) are perpetually ravenous and need sustenance at all hours of the day and night. For hungry guests on the prowl late at night, keep a stash of cookies and snacks available on the kitchen counter for guests to help themselves. They don’t have to be homemade; use store-bought snacks for greater convenience.
- Family Movies
For those times when guests need some down time, keep an assortment of classic family friendly DVDs available that kids and adults will enjoy.
- Enlist Help
Your guests don’t expect you to be their slave, so enlist their help to clear dishes, prepare food, and set the table. Getting everyone involved evokes togetherness and holiday spirit, and prevents you from going crazy. Delegate!
- Keep Meals Simple
You are already providing a place to stay for your houseguests, so don’t feel that you need to be Martha Stewart when it comes to the menu. Suggest going out or ordering in (and splitting the bill) to save yourself money and time. If you’re hosting big family meals like Christmas or New Year’s, prepare the main course yourself and delegate side dishes to other family members.
- Don’t Stress the Small Stuff
So your centerpiece is looking a bit lopsided? Relax! Your guests won’t notice little details and certainly won’t be judging you on not being the perfect host. Toilet overflowing and sending sewage-scented water down through the living room ceiling? Now that might merit a minor freak-out. Enjoy the holidays!