With COVID restrictions loosening and booster shots administered, everything may be returning to some semblance of normalcy. And just in time for Hari Raya, too. It\u2019s been some dreary few years since the start of COVID, and we may now have a reason to celebrate! Raya season is a time of celebration and getting together with loved ones. Hence, many Malaysians may already be planning for their next big open house. But it\u2019s been a while since you hosted a big gathering at your humble abode, so let\u2019s pump the breaks. A small get together can quickly turn into a circus if you don\u2019t plan it right. Before the merriment can begin, here\u2019s what you need to keep in mind before you plan an open house: Set the Protocol As much as we\u2019d like to pretend COVID doesn\u2019t exist anymore, it\u2019s still roaming our streets, persistent as ever. So, it\u2019s important to still keep the precautions in mind. We may be in an endemic but you don\u2019t want your home to be the next COVID hotspot. Hence, do ensure all your guests are boosted and that they\u2019ve all been tested at least a day or two before attending the open house. If you can afford it, mail your relatives some COVID-19 tests and ask them to share their test results. Limit Your Guest List Even if COVID wasn\u2019t an issue, you need to be careful with how many guests you invite at one time. Refrain from practicing an open booking arrangement. Your guests should come at the appointed time, no later. If you have too many guests overlapping, you\u2019re going to have your hands full. And don\u2019t forget if you\u2019re inviting relatives, they will likely be bringing their entire family. There will be plenty of time to entertain all your guests. But you still need a breather between visits. Quarantine Your Pets For some of us, our pets are our pride and joy. But they also have a nasty habit of trying to make a run for it every time we open the door. And the obvious part about open houses is that, most of the time, you\u2019re going to be leaving the front door open for guests. Even if your pets are well-mannered homebodies, they may still not enjoy having dozens of strangers trying to touch them. So, if you don\u2019t want your pets end up traumatised at the end of the day, set them some place quiet and safe. Away from the clamour and commotion of the crowd. Lock your room if you have to. Make Signages If your house is significantly bigger or if there are tonnes of rooms, signages may be a good idea. You may need to show your guests where the amenities are, most particularly the toilet. There will also need to a designated prayer space; you can put a signage for this, too. Depending on when your guests arrive, some of the visits will overlap with prayer hours. So, make sure to prepare prayers mats in advance in a room that doesn\u2019t contain too many personal belongings. As a side note, if some of your relatives are crashing for the night, or need a place to freshen up, you also need to prepare them a room. Lock Away Your Privates Bedrooms, offices and other personal spaces that contain sensitive information are best locked. You don\u2019t want people snooping or going through your stuff, even if on accident. Sometimes people can get lost trying to look for the restroom, for instance. Even if you don\u2019t want to lock your bedrooms, keep your space tidy and put away anything personal, like your underwear. It can be pretty embarrassing for relatives to see your private dwelling in disarray. While you\u2019re at it, put your shoes away too. Or at the very least put them out of the way. You don\u2019t want your expensive Raya shoes to get trampled on by visitors. Prepare Enough Food Food and drinks are the main event of an open house. Most people like to go all out and cook big batches of food the day before. Others take the shortcut and hire a caterer. Whatever you decide, make sure it\u2019s within your budget and that rendang is on the menu. One upside from catering your open house is that more often than not, you won\u2019t have to worry about washing the dishes. Or cleaning up afterwards. A home-cooked buffet is cheaper but you\u2019ll need all hands-on deck to clear up the kitchen when the party\u2019s over. If you\u2019re hiring a caterer, make sure to do your research a few weeks or months in advance. Trust me, many catering houses will be fully booked for the Raya season. Another suggestion is that you can even make it a potluck party, which is a great way to save money. Opt for Disposables This may be a problem if you\u2019re the kind who likes to impress people. Some mums in particular may enjoy taking out the expensive China for 'special occasions'. There\u2019s no need to keep up appearances all the time, the goal of open houses is to catch up with relatives and have a good time. So ditch the fancy tableware for some regular old paper plates and disposable forks. While it may not be most environmental-friendly route, sometimes disposables do come in handy\u2014during events such as these, for instance. As additional advice, do set up a disposal site on your premises. Those large black plastic bags will do. Open houses can be exhausting, so you may not want the extra workload at the end of the day. Dishes can be a pain to deal with when you\u2019re tired. So, getting some disposable plates and cutlery will definitely take some of the stress out of hosting an open house. Let the Raya Celebrations Begin If you\u2019re experienced with open houses, these tips may be redundant. But if you\u2019re a first timer, they may be indispensable words of wisdom. Open houses are fun and for some people, an important Eid tradition. So, it\u2019s good that we\u2019re now allowed to invite guests and visit loved ones again. However, chances are there may still be some government COVID restrictions. So be sure to be on the lookout for those and remember to manage the number of guests in your home at a time. Be that as it may, there's no reason to believe that family visits aren't allowed. Small get-togethers are just as fun and festive as grand open houses. As long as you're surrounded by your loved ones, it's bound to be a pleasant time. Motherhood Story wishes all our Muslim readers Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri! For more insightful stories and fun recipes, stay tuned to\u00a0Motherhood Story!