It’s all in the details and preplanning when it comes to the holidays.
As much as we might not want to admit it, there’s a fair amount of chaos when it comes to the November/December vibe—the amounts vary like seasonal snowfalls, but there’s always assurances of even a dusting of bedlam this time of year.
While there’s only so much preplanning that can be done, there are some steps to take when it comes to getting a handle on the unexpected—the unforeseen—and the downright accidental situations. We’ve gathered some suggestions—some of which are based on first-hand experience!—that should help keep everyone in the holiday spirit.
This is ground zero when it comes to holiday baking, cooking and hosting, so let’s address it well before the oven and stove heat up.
- Take everything out. Give the refrigerator a thorough wipe down using nontoxic cleaners.
- While organizing tips for the fridge are overflowing on social media and the like, holidays are a different animal and call for a different technique. While bins for similar food items/categories are great and make everything look downright pretty, this time of year, consider opting for another tactic. Devote an entire shelf to breakfast items. This goes a long way to direct returning kids and visiting guests help themselves in the morning while you’re “resting” in your room.
- Similarly, make sure lunch items are available and in one section. Follow the Three S Plan: Sandwich, Soup and Salad fixings help you and guests whip up a quick, easy noontime nosh.
- Stay stocked with your baking needs, too (butter, cream cheese, eggs, half and half, whipping cream or whatever your recipes require).
Double duty is welcome.
- If you have a second refrigerator, give that a cleanup, too.
- Use the space for all the extras—appetizers, beverages and backstock items.
- It’s also the ideal location to keep holiday meal prep items in one spot—and away from hungry mouths, who don’t realize what is and isn’t fair game. Let’s avoid asking (yelling), “Who ate the fill in the blank?”
These are called to active duty, so they should be ready to tackle those extra tasks.
- Clean the oven, stove, microwave and any appliance that will be invited out of the cupboard or pantry.
- Give the dishwasher a good cleaning, making sure the drains are clear to avoid clogging (potential kitchen flood) and odors emanating from it.
- I consider my KitchenAid mixer as a major appliances. It’s a workhorse. Clean it, and make sure you know where all your attachments are stored for a quick find. If you don’t have an extra mixing bowl, consider getting one to help keep the workflow moving on meal prep day.
While we can’t eliminate last-minute trips to the grocery store, let’s reduce them.
- Make sure staple items are fresh and in supply. Think: baking soda/powder; flour, salts and sugars (brown, powered and table)—the usual suspects. Don’t forget to check on frequently-used extracts (almond, mint and vanilla), coffee/tea/hot chocolate mix, oils and vinegars.
- Load up on easy hosting snacks for unexpected arrivals. Dried fruit, mixed nuts and specialty crackers and jams can help fill the appetizer gap. (It’s not a bad idea to send yourself a specialty food basket. There are plenty of local makers who’d fill the bill.)
- If you’re a “help yourself” host, clean and organize your pantry—be it a walk-in variety or not—guests might be fishing around in there.
If cocktails or wine are being offered, check the inventory.
- Unless you have a fully functioning home bar, just make sure you have the essentials: gin, tequila, vodka, whisky (bourbon), etc.
- A few reds and whites should cover it for basic wine offerings. Pop in a few bubbly varieties, too. Think beyond Champagne, as there are plenty of lovely crémants and proseccos that fill a flute with flavor.
- For beer, serve what you enjoy, and include a low-carb option along with a locally brewed brand to give guests some local flavor.
- Keep soda, tonic and pop on hand for mixers.
- Don’t forget lemons, limes, maraschino cherries, olives (stuffed), oranges and the like.
- Consider offering a signature cocktail to add to the festivities.
- Be sure to feature a fun mocktail or have plenty of nonalcoholic options on hand.
Any gathering space in your home needs extra preparation for visitors.
- Let’s start from the floor up: Throw rugs, while adding an extra décor touch, can be a hazard, especially for mobility challenged people and young children. Rethink them.
- Extra pillows and throws are ideal for cozying up for movie nights or watching the bowl games, but edit them down when it’s party time. They can take up too much physical and visual space.
- Be sure there’s plenty of space on your coffee table and side tables for guests to set a beverage (provide coasters!) or their appetizer plate.
- Be mindful of extension cord placement (tripping). This goes for all areas of the house.
Making guests feel relaxed is all in the details.
Cozy up the beds with holiday- or winter-themed sheets, and set out extra blankets and pillows.
- Provide the latest best-seller and copies of Lake Minnetonka Magazine for lovely bedtime reading.
- For convenience, fill a basket or decorative bin with antacids, cotton swabs, deodorant, ibuprofen, lint brush, makeup remover towelettes (Your bedding will thank you.), personal care items, phone charger, tissue, toothbrushes, toothpaste, water bottles and more.
- Provide plenty of bath towels, body lotion (winter skin), shampoo/conditioner, body wash (Some guests prefer not to use bar soap.) and toilet tissue.
This area gets ignored in terms of preholiday glow ups, but it’s often called upon for urgent snow/ice removal, extra storage and hiding whatever needs to be out of view for a bit.
- If outdoor temps remain above freezing, carve out some space to store extra beverages that won’t fit in the refrigerator or in your home bar.
- Clean out coolers for extra food storage if needed or for self-serve beverage containers on the deck or porch. (Pull them inside overnight if temperatures dip too low.)
- If there’s an empty parking stall, make sure it’s ready and open to receive an overnight guest’s car, or older visitors and guests with young children might appreciate getting into a warmer car at the end of the evening.
- Make sure there are plenty of shovels and sand/salt on hand. At this point of the year, the snowblower should have received a working test, and make sure you have plenty of gasoline and oil on hand for it.
- Waste removal services tend to be off a day or two over the holidays, so make sure you have extra space designated to handle the overflow.
It’s their holiday season, too!
Make sure your pet is properly groomed for guests—they’ll thank you for having your pet’s nails and other sensitive areas tended to! If you can’t get an appointment with your regular groomer, an at-home tubby a day before guests arrive will do in a pinch.
- If your pet isn’t used to wearing a cable knit sweater, bow tie/fur bow or pleated dress, don’t start now.
- Make sure the food and treat bins are properly stocked, so you’re not forced to deviate from your pet’s regular diet (and cause irregular tummies).
- If your pet uses the front lawn for its regular potty stop, tidy up the area before guests arrive. White snow provides a high-contrast color for … you get the picture.
Preplanning is key to making sure everyone in the household is party/picture ready.
- Plan everything—main outfits, shoes, socks/hosiery, underlayers, jewelry, hair accessories, etc. Using perfume? Figure it out now.
- What about dress outwear? Does everyone have the proper coats or jackets to wear to religious services or to more formal holiday parties? If you’re fine with the family topping their finest wear with a puffer coat, we’re OK with that, too. If you think otherwise, now is the time to address dressier options.
- Once you have items secured: Try. Them. On. This goes for everyone in the house. Just because it fit last year, last month, last week, doesn’t mean it fits now. And children can be sensitive to textures: Throw clothes on, so no one throws a fit the day of the event. (Shoes, too!) This also goes a long way in avoiding last-minute dashes to the clothing store or the tailor for quick fixes.
Your bedroom should be a calming space for relaxation (or refuge) during all times of year, but the holidays pose an extra need for peace and quiet.
- Make sure your room is tidy and clean, reducing mental and visual fatigue. (Don’t keep gift wrap or extra presents in your room. This is a place of rest, not a craft room.)
- Stock up on must-have makeup, hair care, skin care and bath supplies, so you don’t run out and have to run out to get more.
- Don’t forget to decorate your room for the holidays, too. Adding in some festive cheer with greenery, soft lights, faux candles, pine-scented diffusers and the like offer a gentle reminder of the joy of the season.
- Treat yourself to some luxury sleepwear that envelops you in comfort. You deserve it!
The Divine Living Space partnered with Lake Minnetonka Magazine to style this home. The Divine Living Space is a full-scale interior design service based in the Twin Cities. It specializes in custom home builds, renovations, custom window treatments and high-end furnishings—all to create “the space you’ve always dreamed of.”