The first thing to do before you even take out the Christmas balls is to clean up your space. It's simple: go from room to room with a big basket or box and pick up clutter. Loose toys, paperwork, things that need to be put away--pick them up and temporarily store them in a box (You can finish the sorting come spring cleaning). Having clutter taken away clears the space and allows you to do some dusting and wiping.
Assess what you have and go from there.
If you're already planning to buy some new furnishings and decor, taking a look at what you've got first will help you determine the things you really need. Again, go from room to room. You only need a few light touches to bring a room back to life and get it ready for the holidays.
Fresh flowers don't need much company to fill up a space. They're beautiful enough!
Dining Room--A festive table runner for the table plus fresh flowers. Check out the lighting--extremely bright white light is never flattering on people and food and does nothing for ambiance. This does not mean using incandescents though--there are some pretty warm and nicely colored compact flourescent bulbs out there that you can use in your chandeliers to create the perfect lighting .
Paperwhites bring in a wintry holiday scent.
Living Room--If your couch is looking tired, two or three new throw pillows will bring it back to life. A pot of fresh pointsettas in the entry and by the fireplace hearth are inexpensive ways to bring in color. If you don't already have one, consider buying a coat rack for guests. Also, consider rearranging furniture; seating areas that face one another is the most suitable for conversation. Have small tables (tray tables work) around so guests can set down plates and drinks.
Conversation-friendly seating arrangement. Photo credit: www.elledecor.com
Bathroom--New towels do a lot to spruce up the bathroom. A tiny vase of flowers, and a scent diffuser are also easy and inexpensive touches.
Holiday Organic Bath Towels, www.potterybarn.comBedroom--Warm blankets, a box of tissues, a vase of fresh flowers make overnight guests feel comfortable and welcome.
Next: Selecting A Look