getting ready for christmas-compressed Photo: Emily May/Flickr

The holidays seem to come earlier every year. We had barely recovered from our Halloween candy hangover when the Internet began weighing in on Starbucks’ red cups. But there are advantages to getting into the holiday spirit early, especially when it comes to readying your home for guests. These 10 tips will help you to stress less and enjoy the season.

1. Mark your calendar: Party season is upon us! Print out a physical calendar or update the app on your smartphone to stay on top of everything. You’ll also want to make sure invitations, cards and packages arrive on time.

2. Clear out the clutter: While there is no need to react like Gayle, YouTuber Chris Fleming’s interpretation of a cleaning-crazed mother (“There cannot be any sign of living in this house!”), it is important to remove unnecessary objects from public areas, such as the entryway, kitchen and living/dining area.

3. Give your kitchen a deep clean: Much of our holiday revelry is centered around eating and drinking. By deep cleaning your kitchen in late November or early December, you’ll be able to cut down on daily maintenance. Focus on organization, freshening your appliances, wiping down surfaces and caring for your cookware.

4. Do a bit of inventory on your home: If you’re hosting a large gathering, you may need to purchase extra dishes or servingware. On a budget? Hit up the dollar store or a local thrift store for discounted pieces. Mixing and matching your dinnerware is totally okay — it adds character and dimension to the tablescape.

dinnerware-compressed Photo: Didriks/Flickr

5. Finish those weekend home improvement projects: Remember when you decided to re-caulk the bathtub but then gave up halfway through in favor of a Real Housewives marathon? Now is the time to get the job done.

6. Gather up a few ‘extras’ for house guests: Set out travel-sized toiletries like shampoo, conditioner, soap and a spare toothbrush. Place an extra blanket, reading materials and a couple bottles of water next to the bed. Your guests will appreciate the effort.

toiletries-compressed Photo: Aaron Gustafson/Flickr

7. Rearrange the furniture: The holidays are about spending quality time with our friends and family, so arrange your living room furniture around conversation rather than the TV. If you’re hosting a party, you can create extra seating by utilizing floor cushions, ottomans and folding chairs. Oh, and don’t forget to leave room for the tree!

8. Make a festive, go-to playlist: Setting the mood with music is often the last thing we think about before our guests arrive. Putting together a playlist beforehand will get you in the holiday spirit and discourage your weird cousin from rocking out to “Grandma Got Runover by a Reindeer.” If you’re not much of a DJ, search for a playlist that suits your taste using Songza, Spotify or 8Tracks.

carlton Gif: tumblr

9. Turn the lights down low: Replace light switches with dimmers to create a sense of warmth and intimacy in your home. Stock up on holiday candles in scents like balsam, peppermint, cinnamon or even sugar cookie (yes, it’s a thing). Flameless LED candles have come a long way over the past few years, and are a great alternative for families with young children.

10. Get a head start on DIY projects: Time is of the essence during the holiday season. Whether you’re planning to can some jam for your extended family members or put together a festive wreath for the front door, it’s best to start these projects early. No one wants to be elbows-deep in boysenberries while everyone else is decorating the tree.

diy project-compressed Photo: Anders Ruff Custom Designs/Flickr

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