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7 May 2021

How to prepare your home for socialising when lockdown ends

From decluttering spaces to resolving damp issues or considering an extension so your home has enough space to entertain, these tips will ensure your house is in the best condition for welcoming guests indoors when restrictions ease.
socialising after lockdown ends

On May 17 the government roadmap to ease lockdown is set to remove social restrictions that have meant we cannot host loved ones inside our homes. You may have already entertained guests in your garden, but most people have not had visitors inside the house for a long time. Now is a good time to consider how to prepare your home for socialising before inviting people over.

This article features tips and ideas for making your house a comfortable, welcoming space that is ready to host visitors inside again.

The government roadmap for easing lockdown restrictions outlines the following important dates and planned changes to the law, so keep these in mind while organising your home:

17th May - most restrictions on meeting outdoors will be lifted, but gatherings of over 30 people will still be illegal. Either 6 people or 2 households are allowed to meet indoors.

21st June - government aims to remove all legal limits on social contact.

Even once restrictions are lifted, stay informed about the latest developments by checking out Which?'s coronavirus news and advice.

1. Set up your outside space

socialising around a fire pit when lockdown ends

Some restrictions are now relaxed and allow groups to meet outside, so if you haven't already, start by making your garden a welcoming place to host guests. You will want a clean, warm area with plenty of seating.

Have a look at our best buy pressure washers to find the right tools to give your patio or decking area a good clean before you set-up your hosting area.

Next, consider investing in a fire pit to keep your guests warm as the evening goes on. Check out our advice guide on choosing the best fire pit to help you decide on the right style to light up and heat your hosting area.

Your friends and family will want comfortable, durable chairs that won't collapse underneath them. Our guide on how to buy the best garden furniture offers advice on the different options available. Arrange the furniture with consideration to social distancing for extra safety.

For an extra colourful touch, consider adding some new plants or flowers in your garden to bloom alongside your social life. Read through our guide on how to buy the best seeds and plants online for both inspiration and where to purchase the right plants.

2. Safely prepare food for guests

BBQing after lockdown ends

Now that you've created a warm, pleasant outside space for your guests, it's time to think about preparing some food. A great way to celebrate our gradual re-emergence from over a year of lockdown would be a barbecue featuring all of your favourite foods.

If the old barbecue trapped in your shed isn't up to the job, check out our advice on how to buy the best barbecue. Afterwards, make sure your burgers and steaks will satisfy by using our guide on how to cook on your barbecue.

Please take extra care if you are going to prepare food for your guests. Follow health and safety guidelines about how to prepare food safely during the coronavirus pandemic.

If barbecued food isn't to your taste and you fancy pizza instead, check out our guide on the best pizza ovens, and soon you'll be dazzling your visitors with delicious fresh pizza.

3. Organise your hosting space

a tidy room ready for socialising when lockdown en

The most important thing to consider when inviting people inside your home is to take stock of the rooms you will host them in, whether it's the living room, kitchen, conservatory or dining room.

As our homes rapidly transitioned into offices/school/gyms and more during lockdown, a build-up of possessions was inevitable and these spaces are likely filled with clutter, office equipment and other bits and bobs. Spend some time re-organising your hosting room and its furniture to create an open, comfortable space for visitors.

Consider if the space has plenty of light and seating for everyone. Move the work desk and computer screens into a different room and take a proper break from thinking about work. This moment has been a long time coming, so make sure you're best placed to enjoy it.

If you want to remain cautious about the risk of infection after lockdown restrictions have ended, read our face masks and coverings advice guide, or our story about hand sanitisers.

4. Resolve unsightly damp problems

damp spreading on a wall

You may have become desensitised to the damp patch on the wall you planned to fix one day, or cases of mould and wood rot. Damage from penetrating or rising damp may be afflicting your home, which each require different types of special treatment. Damp's insidious spreading can go unnoticed when you spend every day in your house.

Read our guide on how to get rid of dampfor advice and tips for tackling damp. The guide covers a wide range of issues and solutions, from specialist treatments for major issues to DIY fixes for getting rid of damp smells.

Arm yourself with the knowledge you need to banish damp from your home and make it a welcoming, damp-free environment for hosting guests. Removing damp sooner rather than later will help by fixing a small problem before it becomes a major issue, saving you money and stress.

5. Purchase new furniture and furnishings

a new sofa

Now that you've thought about the clutter and potential damp in your hosting space, consider how it could be further enhanced. For example, adding new cushions, throws, rugs and other soft furnishings will add colour and comfort to a plain room.

Continuous use during lockdown may have worn down your existing furniture or you may have had extra time to notice its comfortability and aesthetics and have some ideas about how you can make better use of your space and make it more practical, comfortable and welcoming. Consider purchasing a new sofa, table or chairs to provide adequate seating and somewhere for your guests to put down their food and drink.

If you are planning to buy new furniture, check out our step-by-step guide on how to buy a sofa to help you get the best product for your home. If all your sofa needs is some care and attention, have a look at our tips on how to clean a sofa.

6. Fix and repair small maintenance issues

making a minor repair

It's easy to procrastinate carrying out small fixes and repairs around the house when only you and your family see them. However, visitors may not be as accepting that the toilet door doesn't lock, or that some chair or table legs are wonky.

Issues like this could cause discomfort to your guests. Spend a few minutes looking around your house as if you were visiting for the first time, as it's possible you've grown used to minor problems that will be more obvious to newcomers.

Another way to make your home more welcoming for visitors is to replace blown or ineffective lightbulbs. This will give your home a bright, welcoming glow and you could even try different coloured bulbs for a new aesthetic. Check out our lightbulb advice guides to see what options are available.

7. Expand your available space

If you've tried all the tips in this article so far but have realised that what you really need is more space, consider a building project to add more rooms to your home.

Different types of house extensions such as porch extensions, basement conversions, single and double storey extensions or garage conversions, can all be built to add extra space for hosting gatherings.

Similarly, a conservatory or orangery can be a great way to provide more room perfect for hosting guests. Our guide to conservatory and orangery prices will help you avoid expensive pitfalls with your project.

Many homes have lofts or attics that are primarily used for storage. Consider transforming your loft with a loft conversion to create a unique, atmospheric space for hosting events such as a drinks evening or games night. To see if a project of this size would be within your budget, have a look at our guidance about loft conversion costs.

Alternatively, if you want a hybrid socialising space that combines being inside and outside, consider building a garden room to host your friends and family. Check out our guide on how to buy the best garden room to see if this option would be suitable for your requirements.

Need a builder to help bring your project to life? Use Which? Trusted Traders to find a reliable builder near you.