Parents, friends, cousins, in-laws. Alone, in twos, in fours, in bus loads. The holidays are when they all surface. Arriving at your front door with large suitcases and open ended plane tickets, t’is the season for company.

Holiday company can be a joyous thing: it’s great to see people you haven’t seen in ages, particularly when they come bearing gifts. But, company of any kind can also come with its fair share of stress.

Don’t let the hectic hassle come over to stay by keeping the following tips in mind:

Start Early: The night before your company is scheduled to arrive is not the best time to start preparing: at this point, it’s too late and you may as well spend the next few days pretending not to be home. Instead of finding yourself in this sort of bind, give yourself at least a month to prepare. Make a list of what needs to be done, and do five or six tasks a week. Last minute things will come up, so give yourself a few days towards the end to put on the final touches.

Stock up on supplies: The words “company” and “free loaders” may as well be synonymous: visitors will eat your food and use up your inventory. For this reason, it’s important to prepare an arsenal of supplies. This not only includes food staples – bread, butter, cheese, milk – but it also encompasses items not of the edible variety. When you stock up on soda and beer, also stock up on soap, shampoo, toilet paper, toothpaste, and laundry detergent as well.

Bribe your kids: You may have a guest room in your house, a vacant place ideal for company. But, if you don’t have a spare room, the next best thing is your child’s room. Some children know that the holidays are a time for displacement and gladly give their room up to their grandparents. Other kids, however, need a little nudge, and a little bribery. If your kids are moaning and groaning about having to share a room so that their Aunt Bev can have her own, throw in a five or ten dollar bill. Chances are, they’ll be more than happy to oblige.

Make it Seasonal: The holidays are a time for love, a time for joy, and a time for decorations. Nothing makes a house feel more comfortable than one that is seasonally presented. From Thanksgiving decorations to a Christmas tree, from a Menorah to holiday lights, this time of the year is when you’re supposed to go all out: it helps make you and your company feel right at home.

Fix the things you’ve been putting off: The sewer that keeps backing up, the TV cable that keeps going out, the broken garbage disposal, the burnt out light bulbs, there is no better time to fix things than when company is on the horizon. Not only does company motivate you to get things done, but it also keeps things from going very wrong once they’ve arrived. There’s nothing quite as inconvenient as having a house full of people and a toilet that won’t flush.