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Last minute christmas 1- get your home ready for guests

Is it just me...or does Christmas tend to pounce on you from nowhere? It seems odd, but I guess we are used to seeing the neighbours put their lights up in November, the shops stocking up on Advent Calendars in October and children writing their letters to Santa in Spring - why is it then, that some of us are still doing everything last minute (self included!)?

We would need to take some holiday at the beginning of the month to get everything done, but that is wishing. So to honour all of the 'last-minute' Christmas folks out there, this week we help you to get it all done in time - no fret and no sweat! We start with the all-important task of preparing for family and guests who will be turning up at any time - there are a few things to consider when getting the home ready for guests and we have the low-down in our first post. You want them to feel welcome from the moment they enter the gate and approach the front door.

Spend a little time on your front porch to make it presentable - this could mean a quick tidy and de-cluttering, it might mean some fresh paint on a tired looking door; one thing is for sure though, some seasonal potted plants would perk the place up and a home-made or bought wreath will add colour and festive cheer. Provide an outdoor rug for them to stamp the snow off their boots! Next is your entrance hall - ask yourselves if it provides enough space to greet guests and to allow baggage through; clear the floor so that it is free of shoes and bags.

A console table gets a Christmas makeover with some candles, greenery and a little sparkle. If you can't accommodate for all those extra coats and shoes, consider a row of coat hooks on one wall and a bench seat so they can comfortably remove shoes and place neatly underneath. The guest bedroom is important, but try not to go over the top with Christmas décor - it doesn't want to feel like Santa's Grotto.

Try to hold back from pouring decorative pieces over every surface - they are going to require this space for their own personal belongings. If you want to add some festive décor then consider some red beading on ready made curtains or a wreath hanging from the curtain pole; a box of chocolates wouldn't go a miss nestled between sparkling accent pillows. An Ottoman or bench seat with drawers comes in handy by the end of the bed; not only will it be able to store extra blankets, but it is a good spot for them to unpack their suitcases.

Make them feel at home by providing them with a clear wardrobe, plenty of hangers and some fresh towels at the end of their bed. If you have a guest bathroom - great, but this often isn't the case. When everyone is sharing, you need to have a thorough clean and de-clutter. If you can, remove as much bathing accessories as possible so that they can add their bits to cleared shelves and storage units.

You can place the things you don't need on a daily basis in a wicker basket and keep it in your room for the duration of their stay. Provide some nice bath salts and a fluffy dressing gown/ house shoes for extra points! Stay tuned for more interior design ideas this week that will make a last minute Christmas easier to handle and achieve successfully; tomorrow we are taking a look at choosing a last-minute Christmas style.

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