Photo: Alison Gootee
Clearing space in the drawer for guests keeps the bathroom in order, while decorative soaps accumulated through the year add a festive touch.

Day 5: Don't Throw in the Towel—Hang It Up!

If your guests will be sharing bathrooms, provide a thick wood hanger for each person's towel. Because hangers can live on doorknobs or in closets, you'll be less likely to find towels piled on the floor or tossed over shower curtain rods. "And unlike hooks," says Walsh, "which leave everything damp and smelly, hangers actually allow towels to dry." If guests aren't getting the message, feel free to make it explicit. "I have been known to take a towel from the floor, place it on a hanger and point it out to my relative or houseguest," says Walsh, "in the most warm and welcoming way possible. Happy holidays!"

Day 6: Prepare for Traffic

Lay extra mats in your entryway to accommodate your guests' cold-weather accoutrements. Though Walsh lives amid palm trees—and has yet to welcome a visitor with snowy boots—even he adds a holiday-themed mat, if only for a welcome pop of color.

Day 7: Bag It

Despite Walsh's warm-weather provenance, a career spent wading through a vast cross section of American clutter has familiarized him with the hazards of the winter mudroom, so often subsumed by piles of mismatched mittens smelling of a gym locker. His canny solution: Hang canvas totes from pegs on the wall to provide each person with a receptacle for gloves and scarves (or sun hats and Wayfarers, as is more often the case with Walsh's guests). If you have time, decorate the bags with names or holiday stencils. And if the forecast calls for snow, use a small portable heater to keep everything dry.

Day 8: Manage Your Mail

Invest in a flat tray for your kitchen counter to corral all incoming mail. Then commit to using any spare five minutes to quickly sort each day's mail, discarding junk, recycling catalogs, setting aside bills for payment and displaying holiday cards. "A mail system," says Walsh, "will help keep track of important documents during this hectic time of year and ensure that you don't find New Year's Eve party invitations under your couch cushion in late February."

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