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Prepping For Visiting Relatives

By Elizabeth Elstien

Holidays are time to relax and enjoy good food and drink with family. But can you withstand the onslaught of relatives sleeping over at your home? Yes, you can. Just employ smart space-creation ideas and a positive attitude. Here is my tried-and-true holiday-season advice for maintaining the festive feelings with overnight relatives.

Welcome Guests

Whether relatives come from near or far, they are often tired after their journey. Welcome them with a light snack and homemade punch. Have extra hand towels and soaps in the bathroom for their use. Do everything you can to make them feel comfortable and not a burden to have around. Give your guests nothing but positive energy upon arrival to set the tone for the entire stay.

Set Up Separate Space

Separate rooms for each adult guest or couple is often the best choice. But if you don't have extra rooms, create extra space. Have young children sleep in a tent in the living room to clear a bedroom for visiting adults. Start by borrowing or renting a full-size bed for use while guests are around. Put the kid's stuff away, place fresh linens on the bed and drape clean bath towels over the footboard. Place a dozen hangers in the closet and clean it out, so luggage is easily stored. The kids will get a hoot out of their temporary sleeping quarters and adults get private space.

If your space is really tight, partition off part of the living room or split one bedroom into two. Stand up old accordion closet doors or purchase office partitions at a second-hand store, bring in a bed, a small night stand, lamp and coat rack. A temporary room is quickly at your service.

Plan Separate Activities

Depending on the number of relatives visiting, sometimes it is best to plan separate, but interesting, activities to keep guests entertained. It is easier to accommodate a small group than a large one with happier relatives. Do shopping or sightseeing outings for those who want to attend to lessen the crowd and give those staying behind some space.

Remove Clutter From Hall Closets

A hall closet is where guests that don't have a separate room can store luggage and other bulky items or hang clothes or jackets. Get containers for each guest to easily store and access smaller items, yet keep them off counters and tables. Kids can transform shoe boxes to make their own storage bins for craft or special items.

Avoid Overcrowding the Kitchen

To keep the masses from overcrowding the kitchen, prepare a few main courses ahead of time and freeze. Thaw overnight and have a few family cooks help prepare the side dishes while the main course is in the oven. Have eating and socializing tables outside of the kitchen with plates of snacks -- fresh fruits, nuts, crackers, cheese -- on the table between meals. Food draws people together, but too many guests in one kitchen cramps the cook(s).

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