Prepare your home this Christmas and make your guest comfortable. Photo: iStock
Prepare your home this Christmas and make your guest comfortable. Photo: iStock

The days before holiday entertaining can be frantic as you try to prepare for guests. While it’s not the time to start big projects, doing bits and pieces here and there will be noticed. Then you, as well as your guests, can enjoy the fruits of your labour. Whether it’s a few minutes or half a day, just choose the jobs you have time for!

Make overnight guests feel at home
It may only be your spare bathroom, but make guests feel at home by providing a small side table and chair, where they can put things down, and where you can leave towels and washers. Small pieces of recycled furniture are ideal, especially painted in bright colours.

Paint an old teak cabinet
Teak furniture is so 30 years ago! To bring it up to date, try painting it. Wipe over the whole unit with methylated spirits and sand, making sure not to round corners or edges. Repair missing veneer with two-part filler, which dries fast and hard. Sand again, paint with fast-drying, shellac-based primer sealer, then two or three coats of a semi-gloss white enamel, sanding between coats.

New quick shelving
Floating shelving is a great solution when floor space is at a premium. Available in a range of colours and sizes, all of the screws and brackets are hidden. Find 900mm shelves from your local hardware store that screw to studs in the walls. For masonry walls, you’ll need to plug holes before screwing in place. Just ensure they are installed level. Measure twice!

Coasters in a hurry
Need something between your cups and your new table? Look for offcuts of square timber (we used 100 x 100mm oregon) and cut slices 20 to 45mm thick. Sand thoroughly, then glue small pieces of 80 x 80 x 6mm plywood to the bottom and add self-adhesive felt or surface protectors. Oil coasters with food-grade kitchen oil and they’ll even withstand a hot teapot!

Touch up grout
Sooner or later, everyone has to go. If the grout in your bathroom is rather random, you can quickly re-grout. This normally involves first removing the old grout – a slow, laborious task. However, you could try a rejuvenation product such as Davco Rejuvenation Grout, which is formulated to go over whatever is there. It does need 1mm depth below the surface of the tiles to bond, and is best used with high-gloss, smooth tiles rather than textured tiles. Like all grouts, it is applied to small sections at a time and the excess lightly wiped off with a damp sponge. And while you’re at it, check out the tiling in the kitchen as well.

Sort out skirtings
Gaps under skirting boards always look wrong. You can’t help but wonder if a creepy-crawly will poke its head out to greet your guests! These gaps can be due to the floor being sanded after carpet is removed, or occasionally in older houses the floor can shrink away from skirtings during exceptionally dry periods. The solution? Prepaint 19 x 19mm quad, square or scotia moulding, then nail it to the floor. If the floor moves relative to the walls, the bead will keep the gap covered.

Adjust sliding doors
With hoards (or herds!) of people going in and out of your doors, make sure your sliders are operating smoothly. You should not need two hands and your whole body weight to go in or out! Often all that’s required is a small adjustment at the bottom of the door at each end. Find the concealed screw with a screwdriver, and give it a turn to raise or lower the door to give it the clearance it needs to roll smoothly – without gouging into the track with a sickening grinding sound. If this doesn’t fix it, lift the door out of its track and check that the rollers are still round and rotate freely. If not, take one out and take it to a hardware store to pick up two matching replacements. Install new rollers and adjust height.

Tiptop tabletop
Consider finding a new top for an old piece of outdoor furniture when the original top is no longer presentable. A durable option is to replace it with stone (here, granite), which is available as offcuts from stone merchants. It’s easy to maintain as stone is self-care, just fix in place using construction adhesive.

Order in the shed
Give guests enough time, and sooner or later they’ll want to escape to your shed. If you have a potting shed, remove the clutter off your bench by taking a leaf out of Grandpa’s book and screwing the lids of jam jars to the underside of shelving with two screws each. Store labels, tie wire and other bits and pieces in the jars underneath. You may even clear enough space on the bench for putting out drinks!

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