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This is how to have a home that’s guest-ready, all the time

Playing host needn’t be traumatic… read on for our top tips on having a home that’s ready for anything, and anyone!
Lifestyle Hints & Tips
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Ever wondered how some people seem to be willing to have guests over at the drop of a hat, when you need a good three-week warning to get the place into a fit enough state? Do you cringe at the thought of people ‘just dropping by’, or feel panicked at the prospect of distant relatives popping in for a cuppa?

If the answer to all of the above is a resounding ‘YES’, you’re probably the kind of person for whom the prospect of a ‘guest ready’ home is as elusive and hard to grasp as complex algebra. From general clutter making the place look untidy, to a shortage of ‘nice’ towels and bedding for overnighters, it always just seems like a mammoth effort to play host. But all that’s about to change.

You see, there is no magic trick behind being neat and tidy and a generally guest-ready. People aren’t born with it. They learn it. And you can too. Here are five steps that will utterly transform your guest-hosting ability and take you into whole new realms of social-butterfly opportunity.

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1.Learn every tidy-up trick in the book

If you shudder at the thought of ‘deep-cleaning’ your home to get it ready for guests, don’t worry. You’re actually thinking about this all wrong. You don’t need to make your home spotless in preparation for having people over, you merely need to create the illusion of general tidiness (soft lighting helps – more on that later).

One of the best things to do is buy some tasteful storage boxes (think wicker baskets and antique chests over cheap plastic options) and keep them somewhere handy but out of the way – under the coffee table, by the sofa or tastefully lined up in a corner. That way, shoving random bits of ‘house litter’ away becomes much less tiresome, and a lot quicker to do. Plus, you’ve added to your home’s interior with stylish accessories that are functional at their core. Now that’s what we call an interior design win!

Next, it helps to always have a stash of antibacterial wipes in the house – a packet for each room preferably. That way dusting/bathroom cleaning/kitchen surface wiping becomes a doddle.

Finally – don’t sweat the small stuff. Nobody cares if your floors aren’t perfectly polished, or your windows are erring on the mucky side. They’re much more bothered about general ambience, comfort and, of course, seeing you.

2.Increase the seating in your living room

Now it’s time to get clever with seating. You don’t need to invest in a mammoth new sofa to accommodate ten or more bottoms, but it’s always helpful to have extra perch-space when it comes to having people over. Consider upping your living room seating game with a few new buys that double up as gorgeous accessories too – just like your trusty storage baskets. We’re loving pouffes and footstools as an alternative seating choice easy to blend into your existing interiors, and there are tons on the market to choose from. Whether you discover that fabric footstools are your new design-obsession or prefer to go for something in sleek leather, they’re worth exploring for the sheer diversity on offer alone. Something like this New England Addison Large Fabric Footstool would fit the bill – it’s big enough to seat a couple of people but is slim and low-to-the-ground so it won’t eat up space.

Another option – albeit a rather laid back one – is to buy some giant, comfy floor cushions for those guests who don’t mind kicking back and chilling with an evening glass of wine. Think cosy conversations around the fire, or lazy movie sessions with friends and family on slow Sunday afternoons.

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3.Make your own ready-meals

Sometimes we’d love nothing more than to invite friends round for an impromptu dinner but don’t due to the perceived effort involved. By the time we’ve thought up a menu, shopped for it and then cooked, we’ll be too exhausted to really enjoy their company. But what if there was another option? Better than a take away, and much cheaper than forking out for a restaurant?

Pre-homecooked and then frozen back-up meals are a god-send when it comes to those last-minute dinner parties or relaxed after-work suppers with close friends. Simply set aside the odd Sunday afternoon to batch cook something delish and easily defrostable, then portion up and freeze for future social gatherings. From beef bourguignon with lashings of creamy mashed potato, to spicy chilli con carne, to slow cooked ragu – there are plenty of dishes that can be frozen and whipped out at the last minute, leaving your guests seriously impressed and full to the brim!

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4.Realise the power of candles and background music

One of the biggest mood-killers when having guests round is lack of ambience – aka bad lighting and that awful stony silence that only seems to get harder to fill the longer it goes on. The solution? Candles, background music and an absolute, ‘no-means-no’ ban on all overhead lighting. Nobody wants to feel under scrutiny under the stark glare of spotlights, especially if they’re hoping to look at their best on a night out – so it’s your duty as host to ensure your home is ambient and relaxing and the lighting is flattering. First, fill a kitchen drawer with tealights so there’s never a risk of running out. Next, create a couple of music playlists that you can pop on at the drop of a hat so you’re not faced with making choices over which outdated album is better, while your guests eagerly await your attention.

If you’re a little guest-shy, preparing your home can go a long way towards easing some of the anxiety that accompanies hosting. It’s all about being organised in advance so that you’re not overwhelmed by the actual event. That way, when you’ve got the chance to be spontaneous you know you’ll be bringing guests home to a house that’s calm and ready for anything – just like you.

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