It’s our job as holiday rental owners to not only provide accommodation, but to help guests create new and special holiday memories and this is particularly important over the festive period. By being prepared and by creating the right first impression you’ll ensure the festive period is a success for both you and your guests.
There will of course be some guests who are escaping to your property to avoid the festivities. In that case, this advice doesn’t apply!
Out and about
Find out what’s happening in your local village and in your surrounding area over the festive period. If your guests are bringing children their interests will differ to those on holiday as a couple or with friends. Be selective and offer suggestions on what to do and where to go specifically for those guests. Email guests web links beforehand so they can take a look and plan in advance if they wish. Guests may like to attend church services so have this information ready for them. It’s also useful to provide supermarket opening times and are any local pubs or restaurants you recommend offering any special Christmas deals?
Nothing says Christmas like sitting around a log fire. If you normally only supply one basket of logs per booking, then go further at Christmas and supply two or three baskets worth of logs. Ensure there’s a big supply of firelighters, matches, and kindling too.
Get your boiler serviced well before Christmas. A broken down boiler over the festive period is one headache to be avoided. Contact your tradesmen and find out if they are available if the worst should happen over Christmas. If not, be prepared and have another emergency number to hand. Also it’s wise to ensure that other repairs are done before the Christmas period rather than hoping they’ll be OK until January! Ensure your garden is tidy and cleared of any Autumn leaves. Plant some winter pansies, skimmia or to add colour and impact to pots or flower beds.
For all winter bookings, not just Christmas make sure you have cosy throws on each bed, as well as winter tog duvets. Other details such as throws on sofas and hot water bottles with a festive cover, add to the snug, homely feel that you’re trying to create. Leave a Christmas CD too so your guests can really get in the festive mood.
Create a good first impression
A Warm Welcome
Literally create a warm welcome by ensuring that the cottage is adequately heated. Turn on the heating well in advance of the guest’s arrival. It’s likely that guests will arrive in the dark in the winter months, so ensure the outside light is set to come on when they pull up outside. Also leave lamps on in each room, to create a cosy, welcoming atmosphere, so from the moment they arrive they can start to unwind.
Festive Welcome Tray
Jazz up your welcome tray at Christmas. You no doubt have a great local supplier who always provides you with goodies for your welcome tray or you may do the baking yourself, but at Christmas add something extra for example a Christmas pudding or mulled wine sachets. Also, the regular white wine chilling in the fridge needs to be replaced with a bottle of fizz. Add a little gift such as a scented candle, Christmas crackers, tree decorations.
Have a theme and a colour scheme – It’s tempting to decorate your cottage with all your favourite Christmas decorations that you love, but that simply don’t fit into your own home. This is to be avoided. Your holiday home needs a theme and a colour scheme and stick to it. A rustic or traditional theme usually works best in country cottages with reds, golds and greens. Or if you have a modern, less traditional holiday home, a silver colour scheme can work well.
Where to decorate – I recommend you have the following:
– Wreath for the front door. It can be home made or shop-bought but ensure it fits with the overall theme of your holiday home eg rustic/traditional for a country cottage, contemporary if it’s for a penthouse apartment.
– Christmas tree (artificial tree is fine as long as it’s of a good quality) with coordinating baubles and lights. Although personally I always opt for a real tree.
– Decorate the main living space. Also, in the dining room or kitchen decorate the table with a centre piece and some Christmas-themed place mats. Decorate hallways too.
Bring nature indoors – Decorations brought in from your garden work really well. In particular sprigs of holly leaves with berries and pieces of ivy.
Drape the ivy over picture frames and holly sprigs look great in a tall vase as a table centre piece. Pine cones in a glass bowl sit well on a coffee table. Don’t forget a piece of mistletoe to add to the festive fun!