The tree is decorated and the turkey in the freezer, but are you ready to welcome friends and family this Christmas? Katherine Sorrell outlines some quick and easy ways to create extra space for holiday visitors
When you’re passing the Quality Street around in front of the Bond film, you’re going to need somewhere for everyone to relax in the living room. If the sofas and armchairs are full, bring in beanbags for the kids and pop cushions on top of coffee tables and benches to create a few extra TV-viewing spaces.
A bed for the night
No guest room? No problem. A sofa bed, day bed or futon – or simply a longish sofa – will do the trick. A good quality airbed is a great thing to have in the back of a cupboard, too. If your living room is acting as a temporary bedroom, clear away as much as possible so your guests have room to put down their luggage, and place a small lamp near the head of their ‘bed’ and a spare throw or blanket nearby. A box, bag or basket into which they can stow bedding during the day will also help keep things tidy.
Dinner is served
An extendable dining table is perfect for accommodating additional guests. Ideally, choose one that doesn’t require you to store an extra leaf in the loft or somewhere equally awkward. Alternatively, you could enlarge your table temporarily by topping it with an overhanging sheet of plywood (you might want to protect the table with a pad or cloth first), covered with a pretty tablecloth or flat sheet, making sure the edges aren’t too wobbly. Another way to tackle the problem is to create a separate dining table – maybe just for kids – using anything with a flat surface, from a trestle table to a coffee table, surrounded by cushions on the floor.
Any old china
If you haven’t got enough crockery for all your guests, plan ahead and pick up extras at car boot sales, charity shops or vintage shops. If you pick a colour theme and mix with some plain white dinnerware, you can make a virtue of the fact that they don’t exactly match. The same goes for glasses and cutlery. If all else fails, have a stack of paper plates to hand – no one will mind once the turkey is dished out, and at least you’ll save on washing up!
Are you sitting comfortably?
If you have a shortage of dining chairs, consider investing in a few inexpensive folding chairs that you could hide out of the way when not in use. They might come in handy for picnics next summer, too. If you’re not keen on how they look, try covering them with pillowcases and adding a pretty cushion. Alternatively, a flat-topped stool can double as a seat and as a side table – handy next to that seldom-used guest bed, too – and will slide out of the way under the table when not in use.
Extra guests means a proliferation of coats, shoes, boots and umbrellas – which can all too easily end up in a messy pile just inside the front door. A simple stacking shoe rack will always come in handy, as will a few extra hooks mounted on the wall. How about a free-standing coat rack? Or, for cheap and instant space-saving, over-door racks, hooks and shoe organisers can be added anywhere in the house.
Eat, drink and be merry
No doubt everyone will be doing a little extra eating and drinking at this time of year, so aim to create enough room in your kitchen to store all your festive goodies by clearing out your cupboards and fridge in good time. Add internal racks, shelves, boxes and baskets so you can stack everything neatly (clear plastic makes it easy to see everything at once).
Regular de-cluttering is always a good idea in the bathroom – so have a good sort out before your guests arrive and clear plenty of space for them to store their toiletries. If you have really run out of room, look for bath and shower caddies that attach by hook or suction, allowing you to stock all sorts of products out of the way. As a finishing touch, provide clean towels on a separate hook or rail from your own – a clothes airer that hooks over a radiator is a great gadget for this – and some luxury soaps. Your visitors will never want to go home…
Stella sofa bed in Herringbone, £1,340, sofa.com, 0845 400 2222.