Rosie on the House: Preparing for holiday guests in 2020

Spread holiday cheer to the homebound with a virtual happy hour.

Thanksgiving is a mere two weeks away. Hanukkah is early this year (starting Dec. 10), Kwanza starts Dec. 26, and Christmas is scheduled for Dec. 25, but because it is 2020, anything can happen.

This holiday season the Romeros will have two daughters, their spouses, and five grandchildren all coming to stay from out of town — all at one time — for almost 10 days, joining the two daughters and one son here in town with their spouses and their six grandchildren. We anticipate on at least one occasion having five children, their spouses, and 11 grandchildren all at one location. Fortunately, we are outdoor folks and live on a large lot! We can't wait as we are sure you can’t wait for your family event either.

If you are anticipating company at your home, Make their stay comfortable with simple tasks you can do before they arrive.

Keeping It Bright

Add path lights on the walkway to your home so everyone can see where they're going in the dark. Turn lights on early if you set a timer.

May I Take Your Order?

Rosie on the House: Preparing for holiday guests in 2020

Make sure you have specialty food and beverage items for guests with dietary needs.

Ask guests in advance if they have food allergies or things they avoid eating. What are their preferences for what to drink? This will make your guests feel extra welcome, and it will be one less thing to plan on your own.

Luggage Space

Provide luggage racks or an end-of-the-bed bench to keep luggage off the floor and out of the way.

Clear the Clutter

Empty furniture and knickknacks from the guest room so visitors have places to put their things without feeling cramped. Clean out a closet and a few drawers so they can have a place to hang clothes or fold them away. Fix sticky closet doors or windows. Wash the windows so they can enjoy Arizona's stunning sunrises and sunsets.

Fluff It Up

Offer guests choices of pillows and extra blankets. Splurge on a few sets of new, fluffy towels for the guest bathroom. Put them in your bathroom when they leave.

Rosie on the House: Preparing for holiday guests in 2020

Create a sleeping sanctuary with comfy bedding and linens.

Fresh as A Daisy

Buy and wash new sheets for the guest bedroom. Provide a bedside lamp or two for extra lighting. Leave a flashlight and a nightlight in the guest room.

Mi Casa, Su Casa

Provide guests a set of keys and the alarm code so they can come and go when you're not around. Give them computer and internet access and teach them how to use your television set. Print out your Wi-Fi passcode and provide them with a charging station or electrical outlet for their electronic devices.

Deep Clean

Clean and disinfect each bathroom thoroughly. Provide shampoo, soap, and other toiletries in the guest bathroom as well as drinking cups and bottles of water so they don’t have to stumble to the kitchen at midnight.

Easy Access

For guests with limited mobility, install grab bars in the bathtub, shower, and toilet area before they arrive. You can also buy a temporary ramp for the threshold of your front door for someone with a walker or wheelchair.

Outside Fun

What is cold for us desert rats is not cold for guests coming from other parts of the country. Make sure your outdoor furniture is clean and sturdy. Add oversized outdoor seat cushions so they can sit around the fire pit or fireplace and enjoy our dark and starry skies. Get the pool serviced and buy new rafts and pool toys.

Include Homebound in Holiday Cheer

We are fortunate and grateful that our family can be together in person. Yet, we are very aware many families may not have the opportunity as the health of loved ones may force them to isolate themselves from others. There are many ways to include them in the holiday festivities, which will brighten their days and yours.

A Virtually Virtual Holiday

Technology has made it possible for us to share experiences with each other from a distance. Apps and programs such as Zoom, What’s App, Google, GoTo Meetings, and many others allow us to interact face-to-face, even if it's just screen-to-screen. Most platforms are free or have a free version and accommodate two people or a crowd. Here are some ideas to help everyone stay connected virtually.

• Schedule meals at the same time and enjoy them together virtually. It may not be quite the same as in person, but you are more likely to get seconds or thirds of dessert with fewer people at the table!

• Prepare and deliver meals so they can also enjoy fresh holiday treats.

• Bake cookies and pies, make crafts and sing your favorite holiday tunes.

• Start the day together with coffee or host an end-of-the-day happy hour.

• Watch your favorite movies and TV shows together. (You can mute the people who talk too much)

• Hold virtual cooking lessons so family recipes can be handed down to the next generation.

• Read grandkids a bedtime story.

If your loved ones don’t have access to or are not comfortable with today’s technology, arrange for a friend or caregiver to help get them set up. If that doesn’t work remember that a simple phone call will also lift both your spirits. That simple form of connection can keep them from feeling isolated and lonely. Even if you get their voicemail, they will know you were thinking about them, and that is good medicine by itself.

There are seniors who don’t have loved ones and will be alone. Join the Reach Out America “Adopt A Senior” message board. Choose a person you would like to communicate with or request a pen pal with shared similar interests. That will be a wonderful gift for them and you.

With everything on your to-do list, carve out some time for yourself to enjoy the holidays as well.

For more do-it-yourself tips, go to rosieonthehouse.com. An Arizona home building and remodeling industry expert for 35 years, Rosie Romero is the host of the Rosie on the House radio program from 8 to 11 a.m. Saturdays on KTAR-FM (92.3) in Phoenix; KGVY 1080AM 100.7FM; 10 to 11 a.m. on KNST-AM (790) in Tucson.