The holidays are a time for families to gather together and spend a few days eating, drinking, playing games, and enjoying the merriment of the season together. Though we would all love to own a house with enough bedrooms and space to host the entire family comfortably, this isn’t the case for most of us.
So, how exactly can you share your small space with family for the holidays without sacrificing comfort — or better yet, without driving each other crazy? These tips will help you open up your small home for the holidays and have a jolly good time while doing it.
1. Don’t Be Afraid to Host
First things first: Don’t be afraid to volunteer to host family members for the holidays. Just because you don’t have a manor doesn’t mean that your home is automatically crossed out for holiday hosting duties. This is especially true if you’ve moved far away from family and are typically the one traveling home to see them. The holidays are the perfect time to show off your new city and to give your family the opportunity to pay you back for all the times you’ve had to make the long journey home.
2. Find Good Sleeping Quarters
If you don’t have a guestroom, or your number of guests is overflowing into the living space, there are a few options for sleeping quarters for your holiday guests. Of course, there’s always the classic futon, sleeper sofa, or blow-up mattress option, which all work especially well with younger kids who can pretty much fall asleep anywhere. If you’re hosting older parents who may not be as comfortable crashing on the couch, offer to give them your bed so that they feel a little more at home.
Another more unconventional option to try if you have outdoor space in a moderate climate is to volunteer to camp outside while your guests enjoy the entire house for themselves. Gather your warmest blankets, pitch a tent, and snuggle up beneath the stars.
3. De-Clutter Before They Arrive
While your stacks of magazines, books, and knickknacks everywhere might not get in your way on a daily basis, they’ll only add to the clutter of suitcases, board games, and food that is likely to come along with your holiday guests. Clear everything as best as you can so that you can make space for family and friends in your apartment—and all they’ve brought with them.
4. Have Clean Linens at the Ready
When you are hosting guests for any period of time, it is crucial to have spotlessly clean bed sheets, blankets, pillows, pillowcases, and towels to make them feel comfortable in your space. If your guests are staying in a guest room, make the beds for them and lay their towels out on the bed. If they are staying in the living area, be sure to ask them how they’d be most comfortable before you start making up the beds.
5. Have a Designated Space for Their Things
Hosting guests means also hosting all of the things they brought with them. Be sure to set aside a designated area where they can put suitcases and bathroom items—even if they are sleeping in the living room. Make them feel extra welcome by placing baskets for them to store clothes and shoes, and let them know they’re welcome to use drawers in the bathroom for toothbrushes, face wash, etc. It’s hard enough to be away from home on the holidays, so making guests feel accommodated and welcome can make all the difference.
6. Plan Group Outings
Small apartments can get even smaller when you’re hosting a group of people for a few days. To remedy this, plan some group outings with your family members while they’re staying with you. Go out and catch the after-Christmas sales, catch a movie, or go on a hike to walk off all the extra food that you’ve been eating. The less time you spend at home, the less time you’ll think about how cramped it is in your small space.
7. Make Them Feel at Home
No matter how much room you have — whether it’s 5,000 square feet or 500 — the most important thing you can do as a host is make sure that your guests feel comfortable in your home. You can show this in little ways like having the Wi-Fi password readily available for them (written out on a chalkboard or even printed and framed in the living room) or stacking up their bed and bath linens complete with any necessities they may need, like bottled water, extra toothpaste, and fluffy robes.
8. Leave the Guests at Home
This is an unconventional idea for hosting guests, but if you have a neighbor or a relative nearby that has extra room, offer to sleep away from your house so that your guests can have full range of your home. For example, a tiny guest room might accommodate a couple better than a couple with children, while your studio apartment isn’t ideal for inviting guests to stay with you. So, swapping things around a bit might be the perfect solution for everyone involved. Come by in the morning after everyone has showered and dressed to make breakfast for the whole gang. If your neighbors or family members are willing, it’s a nice way to give everyone just a bit more elbow room.