Your parents-in-law are on their way to your home for the festive season and you're bracing yourself for small talk, site-seeing and repeating yourself several times. But what's worse than that is the feeling that your home is not good enough, your cooking is not good enough and ultimately, that you aren't good enough for their precious child.
Stop and relax, because we've got the best home tips for you to ensure that no matter what comments are being passed under the Christmas tree this year, none of them will involve your home or your cooking.
In fact this is the year to dazzle the in-laws with all of the tricks in the book, making you seem like a whiz-kid when it comes to home décor, design, style and trend.
Let us help transform you into the ideal son or daughter-in-law!
The quickest way to show your in-laws that you're serious about life (and their child) is to have a home that is spotless. Pack away any stuff that is lying around, wipe every surface and make sure that your floors have had a good sweep and a good mop.
Minimalist is the way to go—opt for less is more. Don't cram your shelves with books or objects and don't have accessories covering every single surface. Instead choose a few pieces that complement your decor style and put the rest away in storage.
Smart storage solutions are the best way to go when the in-laws are coming and they also provide the best way to avoid comments about you being a hoarder or having no organisation skills. Use drawers, cupboards, the space under your stairs and the space under your bed to store any objects that aren't going to appeal to the in-laws tastes.
Making the in-laws feel special and loved is all about presentation. Pick out photographs with your in-laws with their children, your in-laws with their favourite pets and your in-laws at their top holiday spot and you'll seem like the most dedicated family member of them all.
The trick is for the photographs to fit in with the rest of the photographs in your house. You don't want them to guess that you've just put them up there for their benefit, temporarily during their visit. Choose picture frames that match the other frames in your house. Alternatively, you can swap your usual photographs out for the ones of your in-laws and swap them back when they are gone—easy peasy!
Choose photos of your in-laws where they look good as well, the last thing you want is your mother-in-law to think you've chosen photos that highlight her double-chin. Show sensitivity and pick the top photos that you have of them, asking your partner for help. That way you can always claim that it was their own child that chose the photo if they don't like it.
Fresh flowers add a beautiful decorative touch to any home, but they are also a wonderful present to yourself and to your home—and you're going to need all the presents you can get while your in-laws are staying!
And if you're going to get not-so-subtle gifts from your in-laws, like a gym membership or a manicure voucher (
because your nails always look so tacky, dear), you're going to need to draw some bright and colourful inspiration from your flower arrangement. You'll also impress the in-laws with your attention to detail.
While you can buy fresh flowers from most grocery stores, opt for ones that come from a flower shop itself. You can often get much bigger bunches here, for a lot less money. Imagine gorgeous vases with an abundance of colourful flowers dotted all over your much-loved home.
Hot tip: Choose your mother-in-law's favourite flowers to decorate your home. She'll be delighted that you've remembered her preferences.
That naughty drinking game that you play with your buddies, your sensual massage oils and your book on Karma Sutra all have to go. Immediately.
Hide them somewhere so that there is no chance of your in-laws finding them, even if it has to be underneath your underwear in a drawer. Why you ask?
Because your in-laws think that their children are absolutely, 100% squeaky clean. Any evidence to the contrary will be blamed on you and you will forever have the reputation of the person who led their child astray. Therefore you too have to adopt a squeaky clean persona as someone who never swears, drinks within moderation and has never touched a cigarette before. You and your partner will also have to imply that your sleeping arrangements are platonic, no matter how many years you've shared a bed or how long you've been married for or even if you have children.
There are some things that the in-laws just prefer to be in denial about.
For inspiration you can check out: A Glowing Family Home.
Your in-laws are going to turn their noses up at your taste in wine anyway, so you might as well put away the good stuff. Instead stock the cabinets with their favourite brands, even if it is the cheapest (and most horrible) stuff on the market.
Furthermore, pretend to like the stuff that they drink and when you're enjoying the sunset with a few drinks, compliment them on their choice of alcohol. This may lead to a story about the war or about that time that they ran out of alcohol at a 40th birthday party, but it opens up the door for them to share their experiences with you, which will make you feel like you are part of the family. Encourage them to tell you how they met, what their wedding was like and if they really thought they'd end up with four kids. They'll appreciate your interest in their stories.
And just remember, the tipsier they get, the more pleasant life is for you.
Just like this fantastic, organised pantry by UK kitchen planners Maple & Gray, your fridge and kitchen cupboards should be stocked full but neatly and impressively.
Load up on your in-laws favourite biscuits, teas and treats as well as all of the ingredients that you need to knock their socks off with a few, home-cooked gourmet meals. This way you won't be scrambling at the last minute for ideas for dinner while they are staying with you (resulting in toasted sandwiches or ordered-in pizza) and you'll look cool, calm and collected.
Mothers-in-law, especially, like to believe that they are the only ones who are fit to feed their children (and feed them well) and they worry tremendously that who ever is the partner to their child, is not feeding them adequately. Your stocked fridge will prove her wrong!
Even if you hate that scarf that they gave you last year or you can't understand why they insist on buying you pots and pans for the kitchen, you have to hold on to ever single gift and bring them out during each visit to show that you are using them.
Their gifts are an attempt to understand who you are and make a contribution to your life, so no matter how badly they don't understand you, you have to at least acknowledge their efforts.
Take out their gifts and display them proudly, as if they are used every single day. Mention to your in-laws how often you wear that scarf and how handy it is to have that extra pot. They may not show it, but they will appreciate your effort to meet them halfway.
The most important thing to remember when your in-laws are visiting is that you have a home and a family to be proud of. You may not be going on Master Chef any time soon, but at least you can boil an egg!