This summer our home has been filled to the brim with adult kids coming home, friends coming to visit, and any family we can get our way! Recently a dear decades-long-friend brought her family to visit. My friend is a beautifully gifted interior decorator, and she’d shoot me if I admitted that at one time that might have made me super nervous to impress! But GRACE… and learning that I would far rather be comfortable than impressed, has given me a few tips along the way. I thought you might enjoy my six fast fixes for a welcoming home… to get you past the “to do’s” and on to enjoying time with good friends and family.
Take care of you, first.
I’m notorious for leaving my shower, hair and makeup till the end, and inevitably I rush right up to the last minute and feel hurried and self-aware. I don’t want to be distracted, and I’ve noticed when I get me ready before the rush, I’m so much happier! On my IDEAL day, I shower and get 90% ready. I throw on yoga pants and a tank top and maybe my hair in rollers while I work, or I sport a no-fuss topknot or ponytail. Then just before the doorbell, I can throw on a little blush and my outfit and I’m ready to be in the moment! It sounds funny, but make sure to keep water beside you while you work. Am I the only one who forgets to hydrate when guests come over?
A little cleaning goes a long way.
Run the vacuum (my husband loooves the lines on the carpet – his mama trained him well). Dust, or if you’re in a hurry, just dust the dark surfaces (yes I did just say that! Sorry, mom!). Windex windows and bathroom mirror, the sink and of course make sure the toilet is clean. Pick up any clutter and tuck it away or if needed, stack it in baskets! Plump the pillows and put fresh towels in the kitchen and powder room. Beyond that, unless it’s a particularly messy season, I’m betting your guests won’t notice a thing out of place. And promise me – don’t apologize for anything you notice later! (Bonus points if you do these tasks the night before and forget about it!)
Let in the light!
Open the blinds, the curtains, the windows if the weather’s nice! Turn on lamps in seating areas (I avoid overhead lights when I can, in favor of creating inviting little “pockets of light”). As a photographer, I know that light has the power to make everything more beautiful, more welcoming. There’s spiritual implication there, too…
Make it smell pretty.
If you use essential oils, get your diffuser going. I love a bright blend of eucalyptus or cedar and lemon with rosemary. For warming scents, try ginger, nutmeg, rosemary and vanilla. If you prefer, light candles in several key areas. I like the entry table, guest bath, coffee table and kitchen counter. The same idea applies here- you’re using the senses to create little welcoming areas throughout your home. You can also pop a bunch of grocery-store flowers into a couple jars and scatter strategically – this is quick and inexpensive but feels luxurious.
Create a welcoming playlist.
A few weeks ago, our middle son (he’s 14) had some track team buddies for a game night. My heart melted as I watched him busy himself straightening pillows, lighting candles (I SWEAR I didn’t ask him to), and putting Johnny Cash on for background music. Throughout the day in our home, we will move between silence and various genres of music, depending on what our mood and activities call for. My favorite is kitchen dance time! For dinner and conversation, I have a “Paris coffeeshop” station on Spotify, and for evenings curled on the couch with coffee, I love Infinite Acoustic or Guitar Worship Instrumental.
Nourish the palate.
The easiest ever welcome snack is a cheese plate. A few crackers, some fruit, and a wedge of good cheese, maybe drizzled with honey, is beautiful. It’s almost no-effort and it can go on a bedside table or a kitchen table, inviting everyone to nibble and chat together. Put on a pot of hot water and set out a dish of tea bags, or a pot of coffee. Add cream and sugar, honey and lemon, and maybe a pitcher of ice water with slices of berries or lemon.
These ideas TOTALLY work for creating everyday welcome. Is the house feeling overwhelmed? Are you frustrated with work or are kiddos restless? Take fifteen minutes and put on some motivational music. Shout “GO!” and everybody take one or two quick chores. It will literally put a whole new feel to the home and your time together. No guests needed!
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