Show off your holiday hospitality from curb to front door
Expecting guests this holiday season? Are you hosting a large Christmas party? Get the party started before they walk in your door by creating a festive outdoor atmosphere.
Make sure your front yard and entry are ready for your guests.
Clean it up
Start by cleaning up your property. It’s easy for clutter to accumulate on porches, around the garage, and in the front yard. A thorough property cleanup can ensure that your home looks inviting and clean. Start with the following tasks:
• Declutter the front yard. Get rid of old decor and lawn ornaments that need replacing.
• Put away unsightly items leaning up against the side of the house, garage, or porch.
• Store, replant, or throw away empty flowerpots and planters on your porch and windowsills.
• Rake or mulch the leaves that have fallen on your lawn, driveway, and walkways.
• Clean the stucco, siding, driveway, and walkways.
When power washing your driveway, you might want to use a degreaser first on stubborn stains. Then use a pressure washer with detergent to finish stain removal.
Carefully read the instructions for your power washer. These devices can damage bricks, pavers, or concrete if you use too high a setting in the cleaning process. Be sure to wear rubber gloves, eye goggles, and rubber boots to prevent injury. Once the driveway is clean, use a sealer to help prevent future staining on the concrete surface.
Words of caution from Rosie: 1. Never pressure wash an exposed masonry wall. 2. When using degreasers on the driveway, remember the toxicity of whatever you use will be getting rinsed into your landscaping — observe all warning labels!
• Clear the snow from the walkways. Oh, stop laughing! There are places in Arizona where snow, and lots of it, does fall, such as Flagstaff, Payson, Pinetop, and Mount Lemmon.
• Cut back overgrown branches and bushes that obscure windows or block the walkway.
Once you have a clean slate to work with, add decorative pavers, seasonal plants lighting, and decorations.
Lighting and decorations
The front entry, driveway, and porch are the first areas guests see when arriving at your home. Walkways can be lighted for guests, doorways can be turned into grand entranceways, and the front of your house can become a spectacular focal point.
Installing outdoor lights can be a do-it-yourself job, but it shouldn’t look like you did it yourself. Here are a few goof-proof tips for lighting your yard with style and strategy:
1. Avoid placing all of your lights in a row, which can give your yard the look of an airport runway.
2. Vary the intensity of the lighting. If all of the bulbs are 20 watts, then everything will be illuminated the same. That makes everything a focal point, and nothing a focal point.
3. Use lights as a navigational tool. Light up the bottom of steps, points in the yard where there’s a change in direction, and around any trip hazards.
4. Creating shadows and dark areas in your landscape is just as important as creating light.
5. Err on the side of too few lights. Outdoor lighting should be subtle, not harsh, so it creates a mood.
6. Pointing ground lights up into trees creates a nice uplighting effect. Placing lights high up into trees to cast light on the limbs creates a moonlighting glow. Caution: Secure those fixtures so the wind doesn’t blow them down.
Decorate your front door, porch, and windowsills with wreaths, red bows, garland, potted plants, lighting, and anything that creates a festive mood yet, does not resemble the Griswold home in “Christmas Vacation.”
Go beyond the traditional string lights with a gobo. A “gobo” (go between optics) is a small, stenciled circular disc, used in lighting fixtures to create an image or pattern projected onto a wall, dance floor, or even a lawn.
There are dozens of patterns and colors to select from and can be found online or at most big-box retailers, especially during the holiday season.
Some neighborhoods have limited parking and rules for overnight guests. Cars may be OK, but what about an RV? Reserve street spots in advance. Contact your HOA for the most up-to-date rules, restrictions, and fines for overnight street parking. If you are hosting a party with many guests who need to park far away from the house, consider hiring a golf cart shuttle service to drive guests back and forth.
At the Front Door
Holiday music, such as Rosie’s Cajun Christmas Music Selection, will help set the mood as your guests make their way from the car to the front door.
Upon reaching the front door, greet them with hot cocoa, hot toddies, eggnog, or other warm beverages. A whiff of gingerbread cookies, vanilla, spruce, and other scents will olfactorily transport guests to a Christmas village.
Remember, the holiday party isn’t just for your guests. Prepare everything well in advance and have plenty of “elves” on hand to help so you can enjoy the party, too.
Join Rosie on the House every Saturday morning from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. on KTAR News 92.3 FM. If you’d like to send us questions or comments, email mailto:email@example.com. Follow us on Twitter and “Like” us on Facebook. For more do-it-yourself tips, go to rosieonthehouse.com. An Arizona home building and remodeling industry expert since 1988, Rosie Romero is the host of the syndicated Saturday morning Rosie on the House radio program. Call 888-767-4348 with questions and comments.