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Make your guests feel at home this holiday season

Date posted:  10/31/16 09:00:00 AM Friends eating together

Before you know it, the holidays will be here and you'll be entertaining guests in your home. If you're nervous about being a hospitable host, fear not! Follow these simple tips and entertain like a pro.

Think safety
When you invite family and friends to stay in your home, you'll want to ensure they feel safe. While you might know every single crook and cranny of your home, your guests likely do not. For this reason, you should ensure your home has enough lighting to help visitors see and navigate. Install motion-activated night lights in areas of your home that your guests will likely walk through after the sun sets.

When's the last time you changed the batteries on your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors? If you had to think about it for more than a few seconds, you should probably test your alarms and swap old batteries for new ones.

In addition, you may want to consider placing a few fire extinguishers in easy-to-access areas for your guests. Once they arrive, ensure they are visible, or show your guests exactly where you have placed the extinguishers.

Will any of your guests bring young children? Do a quick run-through of your home to ensure your home is child-proof. This is especially important if there will be any babies spending the holidays in the house.

Clean it up and eliminate clutter
From the kitchen and bathrooms, to the living room and bedrooms, you'll want to ensure your entire home is clean and free of clutter. The Washington Post recommends setting time aside to clean and throw unnecessary items away.

If you find yourself short on time, or you may want invest in a professional cleaning service. Ask friends and family members if they have any particular service they recommend to ensure you get the most for your money.

Check the plumbing
When you know you're going to have a ton of people in your home, you may want to call your plumber and have the professional inspect your toilets, bathtubs and sinks.

"A lot of things related to plumbing get neglected throughout the year," said Michael Hartman, co-owner of Thomas E. Clark Plumbing, Heating and Air Conditioning, according to the Washington Post. "You're talking slow drains, shower drains plugged with hair, clogged sinks, toilets that run on and dripping faucets."

Stock up on snacks and drinks
Southern Living noted you should make it simple for guests to access food and beverages at any time. Stock up on food items that require little to no preparation, so family and friends can enjoy snacks at any time.

Consider asking your guests if they have any preferences for food and beverages prior to running to the store. In addition, you'll want to make sure you know if they have any allergies.

Plan activities
While you don't necessarily need to create an itinerary that keeps your guests busy from sun up to sun down, it's a good idea to have something planned for those visiting. Consider showing them around town, getting dinner at a restaurant or, if you live in a colder region, enjoying some time outside in the snow.

You may also want to pull out the board games or invest in a few new ones. When you prepare your home with some rainy day entertainment like this, you'll feel confident there's something fun to do when the weather becomes frightful.

Invest in some new items
When your guests arrive, you want to have plenty of clean towels and toiletries ready. Brand new fluffy towels will make your friends and family feel right at home. Be sure to lay them out in the bathroom for easier access.

In addition, you should provide toiletries. Have soap, shampoo, conditioner and lotion readily available for everyone visiting you this holiday season. Your guests will appreciate the gesture — especially if someone forgets an item or two at home.

Create a welcome basket
Do you want to add an extra special spin on preparing for your guests? Consider creating a welcome basket for your guests, in addition to the fresh towels and toiletries in the bathroom. Pop in a few items that are unique to your stomping grounds, plus some staples like bottled water. For example, if you're a Chicago native, a bag of Garrett's Popcorn would be a tasty surprise your guests will love. Native to North Carolina? A little salt water taffy is a nice hometown favorite. Get creative and help your guests feel especially welcome in your home.

The holidays are an especially joyful time of year. Having company over is always fun, but you want to make sure everyone feels right at home. With proper planning, you can ensure they do.