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Cooking and cleaning and hosting, oh my! Broken wine glass shards as far as the living room? Kitchen sink spitting up last month’s pot pie leftovers? Aunty Shissa sprained ankle on the kids’ long-lost Lego piece? Get through the final holiday season without a hitch, and make it seem flawless.

Before Guests Arrive:

Clear your entryway! The people will come, and they come with THINGS. Lots of things. Purses, shoes, presents, tupperware, scarves, jackets, cats in doggy bags…give these things a place. Whatever you have going on in your foyer, de-clutter it. Then add extra hooks.

Add a few extra lights. YOU know where the hallways begin and end, where the steps are and how steep. But your guests do not, and it gets dark early now! Add motion detecting night lights inside and outside so no one goes home with a broken hip.

Zhuzh up your powder room. With the eggnog and spiced wine flowing, your guests will find their way here…often. Aside from the kitchen, it may be the next busiest room. Make sure it’s fully-stocked with toilet paper, hand soap, clean hand towels, tissues, and…air neutralizer…plunger. A scented candle provides nice ambience.

Create extra seating. Especially around bars, coffee spots, and kitchen islands. The masses congregate here. No one should have to call “seat backs”!

Cook a few appetizers in advance. This keeps your guests happy and you with less to do/more time to chat and concentrate on the main dishes. Keep wine and glasses out for guests to serve themselves!

Prep a guest room. Just in case you get the tipsy friend who simply shouldn’t drive, get a bedroom ready in advance. Clean bedding, a ceiling fan, and matching footed PJs are all they need!

Garbage cans. Double or triple line them. It’ll make clean-up so easy during and after the party!

Troubleshooting 101:

Dish disaster. First, use as many “oven to table” dishes as possible to avoid doubling up on what needs to be washed. Next, set up a soaking station for those inevitable hard-to-wash dishes. Quick tip: use a trashcan as your soaking spot, and stick it under your sink. That way it can hold a lot but is also out of the way.

Oven issues. How to avoid the possibility of your oven “gone fishin’” on the most critical day of the year? Set the SELF-CLEAN to AFTER the holidays. That way you’re less likely to blow a fuse or a thermostat. Don’t Turducken this up.

NUTS. Any type of food allergy. A simple heads up with a small sign that says what has nuts, dairy, etc. in it could mean a much-appreciated trip saved to the ER.

Fires. First and foremost, do not overload outlets. You and your guests don’t want to be left in the dark, or worse, in the midst of a house fire. And for those outdoor hanging icicles and blow up Santas, stick to exterior specified extension cords.

Plastic. It’s not so tacky anymore. Super wine glasses and lovely dishware come in plastic or even disposable! No more shattered glass or paranoia over grandma’s fine china.

Party Is Over:

Doggy bag. Purchase little doggy bags for your friends and family to leave with leftovers. They get a tasty treat the next day, and your fridge isn’t left overloaded.

Clean your kitchen first. That is important. Get dishes going, trash out, and spills up. But your guest bath or linens can wait. Categorize by what needs to happen right away vs. in a day.

Double check electronics. Make certain the stove is off, you’ve unplugged the fondue machine, and your after-dinner coffee maker isn’t still heating up water.

Get the kids to help: You don’t have to do it alone! Crank up the Carols and make it fun!

Your guests will love how effortless your festivities were, and how comfortable they felt. Happy merry holidays, Island.

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