Having everyone over for the holidays may have seemed like a good idea when you agreed to it last year. Back then, there was plenty of time to redo the guest room, fix the leaky kitchen faucet and upgrade the powder room. But with just a few weeks to spare, the thought of opening your home to family and friends might start to feel a bit overwhelming.

If you act now, however, there is still time to make your home feel fresh and festive — without a major overhaul.

FOCUS ON MAIN SPACES Concentrate on the kitchen, powder room and living areas, said Sarah Fishburne, the director of trend and designer for Home Depot, who recently hosted Thanksgiving for the first time in her new home in Atlanta. “Don’t get jammed up worrying about those secondary areas.”

You can always stash the laundry you didn’t have time to do in your bedroom and shut the door. But the kitchen — “that’s the gathering zone.” Ms. Fishburne swapped out her older kitchen faucet with a new smart faucet that turns on and off with a tap of the wrist or forearm.

Other upgrades that can be accomplished in a day and require minimal investment: adding a new backsplash, swapping out an old light fixture and changing cabinet hardware. “Instantly, you’ll feel like you really accomplished something,” said Ms. Fishburne, who traded cage-style knobs for pumpkin knobs and updated three orb pendant lights to oxide brass double-metal shade island lights.

UPDATE ACCENTS “Switching out your pillows and throws is a great way to transform your space for the holidays,” said Alyssa Kapito, who founded the Manhattan interior design firm Kapito Muller with Vivian Muller. “Wool, mohair and cashmere are wonderful fabrics for colder seasons, and if you want to get really festive, you can try throwing in a plaid or a check fabric to add a bit of warmth and coziness,” she said, suggesting a cashmere knit throw from Williams-Sonoma ($199) and a patchwork plaid pillow cover from Pottery Barn ($49.50). Similarly, you can give your bathroom a quick refresh with a new bath mat, curtain liner, towels and some nice soaps.

TIDY UP Ridding counters of clutter and shelves of tchotchkes is a fast and easy way to streamline space. Use an empty shoe box to collect pens, mail, knickknacks and other items that have accumulated in the kitchen and living room, said Tova Weinstock, an organizer in Brooklyn.

While you’re at it, clear some closet space for guests’ belongings. A dedicated spot for hanging clothes or even a single drawer, she said, “will immediately boost your guest’s stay and amp up your hospitality level.” You can temporarily store your own clothing in a soft bin like the Real Simple canvas under-bed bags sold at Bed Bath & Beyond, Ms. Weinstock said. “Another idea is to double up coats on hangers, with out-of-season spring/fall coats underneath and winter coats over.”

CODDLE GUESTS Putting some consideration into how guests will experience your home will not only make them feel more welcome, but can make your life easier. When preparing for houseguests, Pamela Dailey, an interior designer in Beacon, N.Y., displays logistics like the Wi-Fi network name and password and instructions on how to use the coffee maker in strategically placed picture frames. “The frames themselves can be switched out simply to add a festive touch,” she said, or “you could use a pretty piece of wrapping paper in the frame that you put the information on.”

In the guest bedroom, “little details like a notepad and pen on a bedside table” and “some fresh-cut flowers” will make guests feel more welcome, said Ms. Kapito, who recommends placing a carafe filled with water (like CB2’s $13 stackable cylinder) on the night stand. And in a twist on the hotel slipper, Ms. Weinstock suggests laying out a new pair of fuzzy socks.

EASY ON DECORATIONS Keeping decorations simple and contained makes for easy elegance. “Choose a focal spot in your home — a mantel if you have a fireplace, an entry table or one shelf on your bookcase — that you can dedicate your energy to for creating some seasonal atmosphere,” said Ms. Dailey, who likes to designate a spot for displaying all the holiday cards she receives. “This is a great way to decorate, since everything will come to you,” she said. “I like to find somewhere on a wall so that you’re not taking up surface space or cluttering the refrigerator. Get some festive washi tape that you can tack the cards up with as they come in.”

Denise Piccolo, a professional holiday decorator in Brooklyn, suggests filling a few clear vases with shatterproof tree ornaments. “Display in mismatched groups or on their own,” she said, and drape matching stands of beads around the bottoms of the vases, scattering a few ornaments around the outside.

REUSE AND RECYCLE If you’re feeling crafty, you can transform empty wine or liquor bottles into centerpieces by painting them in metallic holiday colors, like silver and gold, Ms. Piccolo said. “You can use blue painters’ tape to make patterns or block out letters to spell seasonal words such as ‘joy’ or ‘peace.’ ” Embellish with glitter, she suggested, or tie on jingle bells, ribbon or tiny pine cones around the necks of the bottles. “You can display the bottles in a group, intertwined with a strand of Christmas lights around the bases.”

If you’re buying a real Christmas tree, ask for the excess branches that get cut off the bottom to make a swag for your front door. “Simply bunch it together,” she said, and “tie with floral wire, fashioning the end into a loop to hang it.” Trim any excess and “finish with a pretty bow to cover the wire, with tails hanging down on the branches.”

Another easy option is to stick the extra branches in a vase with water as you would with flowers, Ms. Piccolo said, and “embellish with holly sprigs, available at florists or garden centers, or holiday picks from the craft store.”

[Source:- Nytimes]