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I can’t wait. On Christmas Eve, my big sister Judy will come spend the holidays with us. I am so thankful that she keeps coming back because, to be honest, I have been a pretty rotten hostess in years past. Absolutely no food in the house? Check. Complete lack of toilet paper? Check. Within hours of landing, Judy is usually at the grocery store, buying necessities, and giving me a lot of grief in the process.

This year, things are going to be different. I’m ready to relinquish my title of Bad Hostess. So I’ve drawn up a Good Hostess checklist for myself. I think I will knock her socks off. I hope.

If you have house guests coming for the holidays, you can try these ideas with me:

Set a festive mood. Make your guest room cheery by adding some holiday touches, like a little Christmas ornament hanging from the room’s doorknob. This tiny touch doesn’t take a lot of time, but shows your guests how excited you are to have them.

I just blogged about the power of a wreath to make any room feel festive in seconds. Your guest room is the perfect spot for a wreath miracle. Hang one from the corner of the guest bed, from the window latch, over the door of the armoire, or on the closet door.

Make the bed inviting. Judy will be staying in the little guest cottage next door to ours. I’ve been having fun getting it decorated and ready. In my recent blog on plaid, I shared a sneak peek of the guest room. Now, I have it ready for Her Royal Highness Judy.

I like to keep a blanket at the foot of the bed in case guests like to take a well-deserved nap, to rest up for the evening’s festivities. And, in the closet, I keep spare blankets and pillows.

I heard someone say once that everyone should sleep a night in their guest room so they can see if the mattress is comfy, the blankets are warm, the pillows are soft, the necessities are in place. I’m not sure I will get this done in time for Judy’s arrival, but I love the idea.

Dress the nightstand. Make sure your nightstand has everything your guest will need to be comfortable, like a reading lamp and a bottle of water. If you have time, set out a small bouquet of fresh flowers and a scented candle.

Equip the guest bath with all the necessities. I am notorious for forgetting essential toiletries when I travel, like my toothbrush or toothpaste. So I like to stock the guest bath with all the necessities. Fill a little welcome basket with things like a toothbrush and toothpaste, a bar of soap, lotion, shampoo, a comb, razor and cotton balls. In addition to leaving a stack of fluffy towels for guests, you might also like to spoil them with a warm robe and slippers, which most of us don’t have room to pack when we travel. Oh, and learn from my mistake: Don’t forget the toilet paper!

Provide important information. One of the first things guests ask me is, “What is your Wi-Fi password?” Beat them to the punch by writing out your network info and password on a little pad by the bed. It’s also great to include addresses, and even a Google map, to points of interest they might enjoy while they are in town. For Judy, it was directions to the nearest grocery store, so she could buy us some food!

This column was adapted from Mary Carol Garrity’s blog at nellhills.com.

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