Having company during the holidays is fun, but it also can be stressful if you don’t take time to get your home organized well before the guests begin to arrive.

You’ll stay in the holiday spirit and be a better host if you don’t feel rushed. Here are six tips for making sure you’ll be ready to entertain when the doorbell rings.

1. Develop a Plan.

Before you even think about hosting a celebration for Thanksgiving, Christmas or News Year’s Eve, you’ll need a plan. It doesn’t have to be complicated, but there basic things you’ll need to know ahead of time. For example, it’s essential to know approximately how many guests are arriving so you can plan for meals and snacks.

“No one wants to be at a party where they are standing the whole time or where there isn’t enough food,” said Sara Chiarilli, owner of the Artful Conceptions  interior design firm in Tampa, FL. “These things can be completely avoided with the right planning.”

Make sure you also give yourself time to clean your home before the party begins.

2. Keep Decorations Simple.

Too many decorations can make your home feel cluttered. You’ll have less after-party cleanup work if you focus on a few key decorations, such as a lighted Christmas tree or a colorful Thanksgiving table centerpiece. If you decorate your front door, you’ll put guests in the holiday spirit without cluttering the inside of your home.

Holly Wolf, a busy professional who lives in Pennsylvania, decorates only areas where guests will be entertained to keep things simple.

“Is baking cookies important?” she asks. “Yes. Is decorating the whole house important? No. I only decorate one area of my house. That saves time—to bake cookies.”

3. Do a Home Inspection.

We spend so much time in our homes we often become blind to clutter that might make our guests uncomfortable, said Chiarilli. To gain perspective, try going outside and returning as if you were entering someone else’s home.

“Going though your home as a stranger is a great thing to do,” Chiarilli said. “The longer we are in our homes the less we see the possibilities of what can be done.”

4. Consider Renting a Self-Storage Unit.

If you’re having numerous guests over, it may be worthwhile to consider renting a self-storage unit. Putting some items in storage can give you the room your need for entertaining, especially if you occupy a small living space

Maryland real estate agent Jeff Miller recommends using a service that will drop off storage containers at your home and pick them up to save you time.

“This frees up much need space for activities like wrapping gifts, setting up the Christmas tree, and entertaining family members,” he said.

5. Ask for Help.

You may think being a host means you’ll need to do all the work to prepare for your holiday celebration. In reality, sharing the tasks of cleaning, decorating, and cooking is a great way to get into the spirit of the season. Don’t be shy about calling on friends or family members to pitch in.

“Line these people up with lots of notice so you don’t get stuck at the last minute spending the evening in the kitchen,” said Chiarilli.

6. Put Things Away Carefully.

Home organizer Elizabeth Dodson, co-founder of the HomeZada digital home management platform, says your holiday preparation will be faster and easier if you store your reusable holiday decorations in stackable plastic bins that are clearly labeled. You’ll thank yourself the next time you plan a celebration.

“You will know exactly what everything is and where,” she said.

Emmet Pierce