With the festive season only just over a month away, you've no doubt begun your Christmas preparations already, whether it's buying some of the things on your gift list or purchasing new baubles for the tree.
Another thing to address in advance of December 25th is who hosts what - we know most families like to rotate the schedule so the same person doesn't end up cooking the turkey every single year!
If you're the host with the most for 2014, you'll no doubt have visitors who need to stay over in your guest room. With this in mind, it's a good idea to carry out a little preparation now to ensure the space is a home away from home during the festivities, even if they're only stopping for one night.
But how can you do this quickly and easily, without having to go for a full-scale home decor renovation? Actually, it's easy when you know how - here are our top tips.
1. Clear the clutter
Everybody's spare room ends up as a dumping ground for things that haven't got a home elsewhere, but make sure you clear away any clutter before your guests arrive to prevent them feeling as though they've been shoved in there as an afterthought. Box up any out-of-season clothes and put them in the loft for now, and put stray books back on their shelves. This will ensure you can vacuum and dust more easily too.
2. Dress the bed
You wouldn't want to sleep in a rumpled, tried-looking bed in a hotel, so why would your visitors be any different? Put the best sheets on (ironed, of course) and add accessories like extra cushions and fluffy pillows so it looks crisp and inviting.
3. Make sure they're warm enough
Nobody likes waking up in the night freezing cold or boiling hot, so try to keep the thermostat at a comfortable temperature. Also, provide layers that can be added or taken off, such as fleece blankets for the bottom of the bed or a second duvet. A nice touch is a hot water bottle for when it's really cold.
4. Create an ambience
When you're hosting guests, it's easy to feel self-conscious about the scent of your rooms - especially spare bedrooms that don't get much foot traffic. In the week before the visit, remember to open the window for an hour or so each day to add fresh air (although not so much that it gets cold) and prevent mustiness. Give everywhere a good clean, but take care that the smell of polish and the like isn't overpowering. Finally, provide a homely feel by adding something that will emit scent for the duration of the guests' visit. Something like our Sandalwood and Oud reed diffuser is ideal for the festive season and will suit both sexes, as it's spicy and not too flowery.
5. Add nice little touches to show you care
There are lots of nice little things you can do that your visitors will find really thoughtful, including putting a vase of flowers on the bedside table and providing an alarm clock so they don't oversleep. However, think about what you'd like yourself to ensure the stay goes above and beyond the norm. For example, a box of tissues and a lamp on the nightstand will prevent them having to hurry across the landing in the dark if they need to blow their nose in the night. Another good idea is a selection of magazines or a radio, just in case they wake up really early (always a possibility in someone else's house) and want something to do without waking other people. Finally, don't forget toiletries and towels. It's easy to forget your own when you're travelling, so prevent them having to ask you for spares by adding some fresh soap, shampoo and unisex body lotion in a basket somewhere obvious.
This advice should mean your guests return home feeling relaxed, happy and well-rested - just don't blame us if they enjoy your hospitality so much that you're nominated to host next year, too!