Holiday Flexibility

Posted by Ben Thompson on 11.23.11

The holidays require flexibility.  It is not for everyday living.  It is a compressed time of celebration.  Family, Friends, Food, Fun all of them can be amazing, and sometimes not.  The purpose of this blog post is to offer home & hospitality related ideas that will increase your ability to be guest-focused this holiday.

Reconfigure Furniture - Last year we hosted a holiday birthday celebration at our home for a friend.  [And this year we are doing the same thing for her husband.]  Offering the location and Kristin handling the logistics of the event is our gift to our friends.  To fit 12 people for dinner comfortably we actually turn our living room into a formal dining room for such events.  The couch and chairs move, the table moves, we light a fire, we remove all the kid toys [all things plastic & primary colored] and the room is transformed.  Think outside the box and move some furniture for your holiday gathering.

Rent linens - How many of us have spent $50-150 on table cloths only to have guests arriving in 30 minutes and realize someone [you] needs to iron a ridiculously long table cloth.  Spend $10-30 on cloth rental.  It comes pressed and when you're done you throw it in a trash bag dirty and return it.  It allows for changing the mood and color scheme for an event with just an Andrew Jackson instead of a Benjamin Franklin investment.

One-In-One-Out - This trick will bring so much peace to your life.  If I buy a new pair of shoes, I throw an old pair out.  If you move a large piece of furniture into a room, move a piece of furniture out (even temporarily).  If you get new oven mitts as a gift then donate the old ones.  This trick works for ALL things holiday other than guests in your home.

Make extra holiday gifts - For the entirety of our marriage each holiday season I run into the room and beg Kristin to let me steal one of the small gifts she has made for our friends, family, house guests for an impromptu holiday event I have to attend.  I have learned to add to her list on the front end and she now makes a few extras because she knows I am going to ask.  There is nothing worse than being short a gift in a group.

Favors - This weekend Reagan (4) and I assisted Kristin in making 600 truffles.  Kristin is on the board of a local women's center that helps at-risk women in Grand Rapids.  400 of the truffles are for their open house next weekend.  The other 200 will get pretty packaging and become small gifts for people in our lives.  Tis the season, and having something special and small is one of the ways my wife is so classy.

Drinks - Here's your reminder to stock up on wine, beer, or the makings for a signature non-alcoholic drink.  Why can't this be the year you make fresh eggnog?  Add a little ritual to drink making and it becomes an event in itself.  Did you buy extra coffee?  Don't forget the Decaf for those kids like me who can't have caffeine after 3pm. Man tip: Drink making is a great way to hide from guests if you get overwhelmed from the small talk.  Better to MAKE drinks to get out of an uncomfortable conversation than to DRINK your way through the conversation.

Slippers - if you are ultra-conscious about dirt in the house here is a tip for your kind of crazy.  Look for slippers on sale and buy as many pairs as you need.  As passionate as you are about maintaining a clean floor some of your guests are as passionate about not wanting to take their shoes off.  Slippers may be a great way to get those shoes off, preserve your guests' dignity, and creates a conversation starter for your event.  Hey, don't forget a shoe bag or some designated place for people to put their shoes.  Reverse tip - I have easy-on, easy-off shoes because I am in literally hundreds of homes a year.

Shoes & Coats - Clean out the mudroom and make the kids keep their coats in their rooms or the basement so you have room in your entryway for guest coats.  Use a basket to contain hats, mittens, scarves - make it available for guests too.  Add a second and/or third floor mat to facilitate getting multiple people into your house quickly so the door can shut.  It will make the welcome process go smoother.  If you want to protect against wet boots get one of those plastic shoe trays for $7-15.  After the holidays the tide of kids shoes/boots can return...until you hire me to fix that permanently for you.

Last tip:  See my article Guest Room Design Tips for how to make overnight guests comfortable.

Happy Holidays!



Topics: Love Where You Live, dinner party, drinks, favors, guest room design tips, holiday gathering, hospitality, organization, overnight guests, rearrange furniture, reconfigure furniture, holiday entertaining, home, mudroom