MISSION: FEATHER THE NEST

15 super-easy DIY tricks that will impress the hell out of your holiday guests!

Who doesn't want their houseguests to go home thinking, "Wow, I wish my home was like hers!"? Well, you can go out and buy stuff to impress the hell out of them (see our "13 things that will impress hell out of your holiday guests" article in the shopping department). Or you can use these simple, easy DIY tricks to create a similar envious effect....

Make your home smell delicious

Infuse your home a wonderful aroma
without using smoky incense or chemical-filled air fresheners. Thirty minutes before your guests arrive, here's what to do to give your home a...

Spicy holiday scent: Sprinkle cinnamon on aluminum foil and place it in an oven on medium heat. Leave the door open for the maximum effect.

Homey scent of baking bread: Sprinkle vanilla essence or extract on a loaf of white bread and pop it on the oven on medium heat.

Sophisticated scent: Place half a cup of coffee beans in the oven on medium heat.

Fresh, clean scent: Spritz a little pine cleaner around. This cleaning fluid is so pungent, just a little makes guests instantly believe you've mopped and scrubbed for hours. 

Odor-free: Have cat, dog or other smells you need to get rid of? Heat a little white vinegar on the stove—it'll neutralize unwanted scents. 

Give them individualized attention

If you're baking a holiday cake, instead of using full-sized cake pans, use a mini-bundt pan or your cupcake pan for individualized mini-cakes. Splurge on a $2 tube of piping gel or decorating icing from the supermarket and personalize the cakes with smile-inducing sayings, such as, "The funniest uncle ever" or "My favorite (okay,  only) sister!"

Use petal power

Place vases of fresh flowers where guests first enter your homethe entrancewayas well as where they least expect them, but where they're sure to gothe bathroom, kitchen and your bedroom, where coats usually pile up (or they will undoubtedly snoop!).

Make them laugh

Take your favorite humor books or comics off your bookshelves and put them in the bathroom. This tried-and-true technique has been putting a smile on the face of even the most grouchy of holiday guests for centuries.

Don't have any funny tomes at home? Pick up a copy of Calvin & Hobbes' Attack of the Deranged Mutant Killer Monster Snow Goons by Bill Watterson, My Cat's Not Fat, He's Just Big Boned by Nicole Hollander, Dilbert's Try Rebooting Yourself by Scott Adams or Monkey Portraits by celebrity photographer Jill Greenberg.

Get all Martha Stewart on them

To add a super-easy elegant touch, make holiday-themed dried cranberry candleholders. To do it: Fill shallow glass bowls or wide-mouthed candle holders with dried cranberries. Then simply set a votive candle in the center and light. Did we mention it was super-easy?

Master mug art

Everyone's got a latte maker nowadays. To make a real splash, you gotta do more, like, say, create latte art like they do in the chicest coffeehouses. Get a three-minute lesson from this video on YouTube.com.

Don't have a latte machine? Then whip up some cocoa and cut marshmallows into snowflakes, stars, crescent moons or hearts and drop them in!

Add subliminal touches

Clean your windows. Guests probably won't notice the streak-clean shine, but they will notice the crisp, bright look that smudge-free windows instantly give.

Play Vivaldi's Four Seasons, Mozart, Handel orother classical classics on the low volumeso low it's barely noticeable. It gives guests the feeling that they're somewhere truly elegant.

Avoid overhead lights. They make rooms feel washed out and lifeless. Turn on lamps around the room instead. Need more? You don't need to spend hundreds on a set of designer fixtures. Mixing and matching vintage (read: gently used) lamps creates a homey feel, and can be bought for a mere $10 to $20 on eBay.com.


TIPS FROM FOUR WEEKS READERS:

"I like to pour liquid soap into a wide bowl. Then I sprinkle fresh mint leaves, rosemary and sage into it and put it in the bathroom. My guests love dipping their fingers into it!"
—Asha Hulle, New York, NY

"All of my Christmas decorations were broken in a cross-country move and, of course, I didn't notice until after I had volunteered to host the office Christmas party. I spent a little time each evening cutting huge paper snowflakes, then hung with red ribbon of various lengths from the ceiling. The room got huge gasps from each guest who entered. Many of them couldn't believe the winter wonderland that I was able to create for FREE!"
Stephanie, Houston, Texas

"When I invite friends and family over for a party, I leave little place cards all around that include funny or interesting facts about each guest. It's an instant ice breaker and helps people get to know each other better."
—Maryanne Richie, Sausalito, California

"I like to make it easier for my guests to freshen up when they go to the bathroom. I leave out breath mints, floss, hair spray, hand lotion and tester bottles of perfume and cologne that I pick up when I'm at department stores."
—Tisha McHenry, St. Augustine, Florida

"We live near a lot of pine trees. So I scoop up a whole bunch of gorgeous pine cones and set them in bowls and place them around the house. They add a beautiful, natural and festive touch that my guests always comment on!"
—Emma Bauer, Rockport, Maine

"I spruce up cakes by using fun-shaped cookie cutters to add sprinkles or jimmies. My friends and family seem to appreciate the creative touch."
—Nisha Lightfoot, Brooklyn, New York


Share your impress-the-guests secrets!

What are your favorite ways to impress your holiday guests without spending a bundle? Let us know and we'll post the best suggestions throughout the month!

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Your tip for impressing holiday guests:


  

 

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