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How to Prepare for Holiday Family Visits

Cramped sleeping arrangements, running around like crazy to feed everyone all three meals, and trying to live just as normal, but in someone else’s home. These can only mean one thing… family visits! One of the best parts of the holiday season is getting together as a family and spending time with one another. It’s all fun and games, until it’s your turn to host.

Without your parents, in-laws, and everyone else coming to visit, the holidays are stressful enough already. The stores are jam packed with people, your budget is thrown out of whack, and traveling is a whole other nightmare. If you are having family over this holiday season, you need to be ready for it. This is why we’ve put together this guide based on when your family will arrive in hopes that by the end of this visit, you’ll still have at least a smidge of your sanity left.

How to Prepare for Holiday Family Visits | Free Printable Checklist | Get organized for your Thanksgiving and Christmas Visitors | Holiday Preparation Guide

Be sure to download (use the button at the bottom of this post) our free Step-by-Step Printable Guide to make hosting a houseful of visitors a cinch!

Three Months before Family Visit

If you are fortunate enough to have multiple months notice before your family comes to visit, take advantage of it! You’ll want to start preparing as early as possible to make sure you aren’t left rushing around the week before. Here is what you should be doing three months out to prepare for your family’s visit:

  • Start planning your meals, be on the lookout for deals on holiday food staples and supplies at a minimum of three months out.
  • Make a list of all the gifts you need to buy for each family member
  • Ask your guests if they have special needs while they will be staying with you (ex: allergies, special diets, etc)

Two Months before Family Visit

If you are just now finding out that you’ll be having family over for the holidays, don’t sweat it. You can still catch up! If you are just starting your preparation now, be sure to contact each family member who is staying with you to find out if they have any special needs for their stay and start planning your meals! Here is what you should be doing two months out to prepare for your family’s visit:

  • Start buying presents and gifts, you don’t want to be rushing around at the last minute. BTW…you can gets lots of shopping done online. Two years ago I started using Amazon Prime and it has changed my shopping habits! Free shipping all the time? Yes, please. I rarely shop in stores anymore (except for groceries!). Use this link to try Prime for a month for FREE!
  • Look through your guest rooms, do you have everything you need to host your family for the holidays? If not, make a list of everything you are missing
  • Finalize your meal plan for the time they are here
  • Plan a few fun activities for while they are here, and start budgeting for them now!

One Month before Family Visit

You and your sibling have been back and forth for months about who will take in Mom and Dad this year, and you have lost the battle. Don’t worry, there is still time to prepare for their arrival! If you are just now starting to prepare, go ahead and make your meal plan taking into account any special diet requests. Next, check through your guest rooms to make sure they are ready to host guests. If you don’t have everything you need, it’s time to go out and get it! Here is what you should be doing one month out to prepare for your family’s visit:

  • Start buying food staples for your meal plan, plus any other dry goods you can
  • Keep a few freezer meals or quick meals on hand for busy nights this month, you’ll need them
  • Divide up the house with your family and start cleaning!
  • Add any finishing touches to your guest rooms and prepare accommodations for them
  • Wrap any gifts you have bought for them and finalize any reservations for group activities

2 Weeks before Family Visit

It’s getting down to the wire now! You’ve just realized that your grandparents forgot to book a room for the trip, and now they’ll be staying with you! Not to worry, even though you don’t have much time you can still pull everything together! If you haven’t started preparing yet, start by giving your house a quick clean and make a meal plan for their visit. Make sure your guest rooms are ready to hold guests, and make sure to pick up anything your family might need to keep them comfortable. Here is what you should be doing two weeks out to prepare for your family’s visit:

  • Buy as many of your groceries as you can right now, and start preparing some of the dishes. You can make a few meals to freeze ahead of time, or even bake some cookies to put in the freezer until your guests arrive.
  • Get caught up on your laundry, because you know you won’t have time to do it while they’re here
  • Make dinner reservations if you have a large group visiting
  • Get flight information or an ETA from your guests so you can be ready to pick them up from the airport or await their arrival.
  • Prepare a few extra meals in case a flight gets canceled or weather keeps them there longer than you had planned

1 Week before Family Visit

It’s crunch time now! You only have one week left until your guests arrive and you are ready for it. You’ve taken into account Aunt Edna’s food allergies, put extra towels in the bathrooms for your guests, and you are all ready to go. Then Uncle Jerry calls, now you will be hosting one more person! Fear not, it happens.

If you haven’t started preparing yet, or have just realized you have more family than you anticipated, there is still time to prepare. Start by adjusting your meals and even picking up more food just to be safe. Plan a few extra spaces for your guests to sleep and consider having your kids share a room if they aren’t already. Here is what you should be doing one week out to prepare for your family’s visit:

  • Make sure you have enough dishes and table settings for everyone (keep it easy, for the non-traditional meals… use disposable plates and cups. Worth every penny!)
  • Finish the grocery shopping and wrapping gifts if you haven’t yet
  • Do any last minute touch ups or clean ups to ensure you have a clean home
  • Make yourself a to do list of everything you still need to do, and enlist your family for help
  • Order pizza tonight, you’ve worked hard to prepare and you need a little break to breathe

48 Hours or Less before Family Visit

If you are just now realizing you are hosting family for the holidays, you need to start prioritizing what is most important to you. Is it okay to eat most of your meals out? Do you have time to clean the house? If you only have a few days or hours left, it’s time to decide which things are most important to you and your family and get those done now! Here is what you should be doing one week out to prepare for your family’s visit:

  • Make the guest bed if you haven’t already and make sure their rooms are ready
  • Have your children move into a shared room if you plan to
  • Start thawing one of the freezer meals you’ve made if it needs to be thawed
  • Call your reservations and make sure everything is in order
  • Confirm any pick up times and ETAs of the family members
  • Make sure your dishwasher is empty, you’re going to need it
  • Lay out your clothes for their visit

How to Prepare for Holiday Family Visits | Free Printable Checklist | Get organized for your Thanksgiving and Christmas Visitors | Holiday Preparation Guide

Family visits can be stressful any time of the year. Hosting your family for the holidays can be an added stress, but it can also be a lot of fun! You’ll create great family memories that you’ll talk about for years to come, and spend quality time with one another. With this checklist and timeline, you’ll be family ready no matter when you find out they’re coming.




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