I love Christmas! I love the snow, the cold, the warm fire, having tons of fun events, and getting to spend so much time with my favorite people. And let me tell you, I have a lot of favorite people! Between friends and family, our house becomes a hotel during November and December. I wouldn’t want it any other way.
When my parents and my sister’s family come down to visit, we have 12 people staying at our house! We have the best memories of those visits.
One thing is for certain, when you routinely entertain groups of 12 for a week in your house, you quickly learn to be an efficient hostess. You learn how to prep for guests at a moments notice.
Back in the old days, I was always caught unprepared for guests. I’d run around like crazy right before they were supposed to arrive trying to clean the house, and wash towels and make sure we had enough toilet paper and paper towels. It wasn’t fun.
Now I’ve got this hostess thing down pat!
I made a list in my planner of the things to have on hand before the visit. I make sure to grab them along with my groceries before they come in. We don’t have enough beds for everyone (I can’t imagine having a house with 12 extra beds!) but they take over the bottom floor of the house with couches and air mattresses, I leave the things they’ll need for their stay down there.
The Holiday Essentials List
- Toilet Paper: 12 people in a week use a lot of toilet paper! My dad has pretty strict beliefs on quality toilet paper (He’s been known to bring his own if my husband warns him that I bought the cheap toilet paper!). So I spoil them rotten with Cottonelle Clean Care or Scott 1100 bathroom tissue. Both are strong, very absorbent and get the two thumbs up approval of both my husband and my dad.
- Paper towels: There’s a lot of cooking, a lot of spills, and messes that only my three-year-old could create (he’s incredibly talented in mess making… he takes after his mother). I’ve found that if we get a really absorbent paper towel like Viva, we use less overall, which saves us money.
- Hand soap: We use a ton of hand soap that week! My trick is to buy beautiful hand soap containers and then just refill the containers from a large jug.
- Tissues: It’s impossible to get 12 people together during the winter without someone having a cold or an allergy. It’s just not possible! Kleenex even make tissues in cute cylinders now with Christmas patterns! (Hint: Kleenex® Holiday Ovals also make for an awesome Elf on the Shelf set up!)
- Sandwich bags/freezer bags: We have so many leftovers at every meal. Because each meal is planned (otherwise we would spend a fortune in food!), we don’t always have the opportunity to eat up leftovers right away. We stick them in freezer bags and freeze them for quick meals when everyone has gone back home. We’ll have a gallon of beef stew, homemade rolls, and cinnamon buns waiting for us later.
- Paper cups: We only have about 12 water glasses in the whole house. By having paper cups for the week we can use less dishes. Being able to write our name on the cup, helps us use less cups.
- Drinks: We’re a water only family, but not everyone shares our love of plain jane water. We stock up on coffee, juice, milk, and soda so that everyone has their drink of choice.
- Extra towels washed: We make sure that each guest has their own towel washed and folded.
- Sheets and spare blankets: We make sure to have the sheets washed and the bed made. We fold up blankets on the other sleeping areas (the Aerobed and the couches) so that everyone has a pillow, sheets, and blankets for their bed. We buy white sheets fro guests for just $2 at the Thrift Store and then wash them on “Sanitary cycle” with bleach to get them really clean.
- Easy breakfasts: Giant bags of cereal, bagels, and cream cheese. We have a wide variety of wake-up times from 5 am (that would be the 3-year-old), to 11 am (the teenagers). Having these giant bags of breakfast cereals makes it easy for everyone to grab a bowl of cereal when they wake up. Besides being cost effective (at about $4 per bag), they’re just fun.
- Toothbrushes and toothpaste: We keep spare toothbrushes (we can find a pack of 4 generic toothbrushes for about $4 at Walmart) and toothpaste in the downstairs bathroom in case someone forgets one.
- Shampoo, conditioner, and body wash: We grab shampoo, conditioner, and body wash (Suave Rosemary and Mint is super cheap but smells amazing- that’s a great guest shampoo).
We just go to Walmart so that we can grab both our groceries for the week and this list all in one quick trip. The”pro” trick here is to go to Walmart and use Ibotta to get cash rebates on everything. Ibotta gives you cash rebates on your groceries. They even give you rebates for things like any brand of shredded cheese, or the store brand of milk!
Now is the perfect time to start using Ibotta! Because there are cash rebates available for four of the things I talked about in this list! Milk (any brand, even the store brand!), Viva Paper towels, Scott 1100 bathroom tissue and Cottonelle toilet paper.
You can even submit your receipt to Savings Catcher, after Ibotta! Savings catcher checks local sales flyers and if anyone is advertising lower prices for the products that you bought, they’ll automatically give you the difference!)
- With the Ibotta app, get:
- $1 off Cottonelle 12-ct or larger
- $1 off Scott 12-ct or larger
- $1 off Viva 6-ct or larger
- Buy two products and get an extra dollar back
There you have it. Prep for holiday guests, and save money!
What’s on your essentials list?
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.