After last year’s gatherings were largely canceled or held virtually, many of us are gearing up to host holiday guests for the first time in a while. If months of working, schooling, and otherwise hunkering down at home have left your home less than guest-ready, you still have time to make some updates before the season of entertaining begins in earnest. You likely won’t have time for a full renovation ahead of the holidays, but there are a variety of quick yet impactful spruce-ups you can tackle in the coming weeks.
First, get focused. A whole-home makeover probably isn’t feasible within a few weeks’ time, so concentrate your efforts on gathering spaces and other areas visitors are likely to interact with, such as powder rooms or guest bedrooms. For holiday dinners, consider where guests are likely to congregate before, during, and after the meal, suggests New York City interior designer Elizabeth Gill. Depending on the layout of your home and your entertaining style, that could include the kitchen, living room, formal dining area, and more. Once you’ve narrowed down your main entertaining zones, use these ideas to prepare your home for holiday hosting.
1. Tie up any loose ends.
Before the holidays arrive, wrap up any unfinished projects or lingering to-dos, suggests Florida-based interior designer Brittany Farinas. If you’re in the middle of a bathroom remodel or living room makeover, for example, do what you can to expedite the process so guests can experience the final result instead of a rough draft. For projects you’ve been putting off, use the upcoming holidays as your motivation to finally get it done. “If you’ve been thinking of wallpapering that powder room for a while or just haven’t gotten to it, now is the time to go for it,” Farinas says.
2. Revamp your entryway.
As the first thing visitors see when they enter your home, the entryway is key to a good impression. Ensure guests have a spot to kick off their shoes, hang up coats, and set down packages or purses inside the door. Outfit your entry area with a small rug or boot tray, mount hooks or make space in your hall closet, and consider pulling in a bench or console table. Once the basics are in place, incorporate seasonal artwork and decor or vases of flowers for an extra festive touch.
3. Clear out clutter.
With all that extra time at home, many of us have accumulated a lot of stuff over the past several months. Clearing out excess clutter can instantly make your home look more polished and create a blank canvas that helps your seasonal decor shine. “Nothing changes the look and feel of a space like keeping it both clean and organized,” Gill says. Toss, recycle, or donate any unwanted or unnecessary items, and put away everything else in its rightful place. If you’re struggling to find space for everything, invest in new organizing solutions to store your belongings more efficiently.
4. Refresh your walls.
“One of the quickest and easiest ways to give your home a refresh is to touch up the paint,” says Vancouver interior designer Stephanie Brown. Restore dingy walls with a fresh coat of paint or opt for a different hue to give the room a whole new look. If you don’t have time to break out your brushes and rollers, at least take a few minutes to clean your walls so they’re free of scuffs, stains, or dust.
5. Resolve problem areas.
Most homes will never look precisely perfect, but certain rooms have problem areas that are glaringly obvious—what Gill calls an “Achille’s heel.” This could be a tattered sofa, a wobbly table, or a too-small area rug. Consider what makes you most unhappy about the space and prioritize a repair or replacement. “Foundational elements like these will always be a good investment and, in turn, make a big impact,” Gill says.
6. Upgrade your lighting.
Although often overlooked, lighting can have a major impact on how your home looks and feels. Brown suggests having dimmers installed in the main common areas prior to holiday gatherings. “This is an easy update and helps transform the mood for entertaining,” she says. And don’t forget about exterior lighting. Installing new outdoor sconces or adding a few lanterns is a quick way to make your home feel more inviting, says Toronto interior designer Rebecca Hay. If nothing else, be sure to replace any burnt-out or too-dim bulbs inside and out for a brighter look.
7. Spruce up your guest room.
Make sure your guest room feels polished, inviting, and fully equipped to host visitors. Hanging new curtains, adding a plush area rug, and bringing in comfy seating are simple yet impactful ways to cozy up the space. Hay also recommends providing guests with an additional reading light, such as a table lamp or wall sconce, that they can easily turn off from the bed. If the towels or sheets in your guest room look dingy or worn, spring for a new set before the holidays. And if you have some extra room in your budget, consider upgrading the pillows and mattress to ensure guests can enjoy a restful night’s sleep.