If your home needs more than a good scrubbing to be ready to host this holiday season, this guide will help you get your space in tip-top shape.

By Lauren Phillips
October 07, 2019

Whether you’ve done it once or a dozen times, hosting guests for the holidays is no small feat. Even if your visitors are just staying for a few hours for a holiday party, you want your home to shine; you want to impress with your hosting know-how. (After all, not everyone knows how to host a party or holiday feast.)

Cleaning your home from top to bottom before guests arrive is helpful just before Thanksgiving or in mid- to late-December, but if guests are just hours away when you suddenly realize your refrigerator doesn’t have the capacity for all your holiday dish ingredients and treats or that your floors have seen better days, it’s a little late to do anything about it. That’s where this list comes in: We’re right around eight weeks out from Thanksgiving, one of the biggest hosting occasions of the year, and this list will help you do whatever updates possible in the time remaining to really help your home impress.

You shouldn’t plan a home renovation just because guests are coming, but if you’re already itching to get new appliances or replace your floors, the finite timeline that comes with holiday hosting might be the nudge you need to finally make those updates. (You’ll want to include home remodeling costs in your holiday budgeting, of course.) Just be sure you’re following this timeline, or even working a little bit ahead of it: You want to make sure everything’s finished well before the holidays arrive.

Determine when your first guests plan to arrive and count out from there to determine the best timeline for your holiday updates. You don’t host for the rewards, but follow this timeline (courtesy of Lowe’s), and the hostess gifts you receive as thanks for your hard work will just be the icing on the cake of your newly updated space.

RELATED: 6 Things You Should Clean Now, Before the Holiday Crunch Hits

Eight (or more) weeks out

Dan DiClerico, home expert at home service portal HomeAdvisor, recommends inspecting appliances for early signs of trouble. Listen for buzzing or humming from critical appliances, such as the refrigerator, for indications of potential failure. If your appliances are getting on in years, now is a good time to replace them. Home experts at Lowe’s recommend doing so at least eight weeks out and paying special attention to the dishwasher, range and oven, and washer and dryer.

“Purchase items that accommodate your family’s everyday needs and modernize your home,” says Caroline Harmon, senior trends and style analyst at Lowe’s.

At the same time, consider installing new floors, which can both help a home look and feel refreshed and add value to the property. Lowe’s experts suggest tackling this project early, as it can take days or weeks.  

Six weeks out

Now is a great time to upgrade the guest bathroom, especially if it’s rarely used or in disrepair. The last thing you want is a plumbing issue once guests arrive. If you don’t have the budget to do a complete renovation, Harmon suggests small upgrades, such as a new shower curtain, floor coverings, or vanity lighting. New paint is also an option.

Five weeks out

Turn your attention to the guest bedroom. Make sure there’s open storage for guests to use during their stay, add window treatments (if there aren’t any) to help them get a good night’s sleep, and update any bedding that has seen better days. For hosting extra credit, make sure an outlet is easily visible and add extra charging cords or a power strip so guests’ devices can refuel during their stay, too.

Four weeks out

Time to pick up a paint brush. “A fresh coat of paint in a few key areas, say the foyer, living room, powder room, and guest bedroom, will help the entire home feel clean and fresh,” DiClerico says. If you’ve been craving a big change, add surprising paint colors or vibrant patterned wallpaper; if you just want a refresh, a new coat of paint in the same color will do the trick.

Two weeks out

Experts at Lowe’s recommend updating decorative accessories by adding plants, new rugs, and throws to your space. These small updates are low-cost but high-impact, helping you dress your home up a little for the big event. This is also your chance to add seasonal decor, such as fall motifs for Thanksgiving or garlands and wreaths for Christmas. Seasonal or festive throw pillow covers is a great way to help your current pillows look refreshed and celebratory, without the need to buy whole new pillows.

While you’re looking at the small details, check your light fixtures, DiClerico suggests. Check lamps in the guest room, living room fixtures, and entryway lighting, specifically—if anything looks rusted, cracked, or out of date, now’s the time to purchase and install new lighting options.

One week out

Clear clutter away. You’re likely already in a cleaning frenzy, so between cleaning windows and dusting corners, be sure daily clutter is swept away, too. Introduce baskets to living spaces to hold books, magazines, tablets, and other items your family uses every day but doesn’t necessarily want on display.

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