By now you have seen all the Christmas displays and decorations already up in the stores.  There is nothing like Christmas trees in October to start the familiar holiday season panic!  But the holidays don’t have to be a time of stress and debt.  This year in our family we are making a more conscious effort to focus on the more important aspects of the holiday season and put more emphasis on sharing with family and friends, on gatherings that create memories that will last a lifetime, as well as presents of time, loving words and other gifts that can’t be bought at a store.  But where will these precious moments happen? Our homes of course!  And as I look around my home now I realize … my home is not ready!  

Just in case your home needs some help too, here is a quick and easy plan for getting your home ready for sharing holiday cheer.

Start with the most important areas first:

If it’s been a while since you straightened up, the idea of cleaning your entire home can be overwhelming.  But, the good news is, your guests will probably not need to see every room in your home when they visit.  Make a plan for the rooms that are absolutely necessary to clean for you and your guests to feel comfortable.  The most crucial rooms for entertaining are your living space, the dining area, kitchen and guest bathroom.  If you have the possibility of overnight guests you should consider a guest bedroom also.  And of course, don’t forget the first impression your guests will have when they arrive.  Make sure that your front porch, door and entry space inside your home are not forgotten.

The living space:

I am sure, like us, your family LIVES in your living space.  Of course, right?  So, it probably has that lived in look.  Your favorite spot to sit has the remote, your glasses, a few books or magazines you’ve been looking through; it’s nice and comfy.  But even a few of those comforts can make your home look cluttered quickly.  When you are thinking about entertaining in your living area it is important to not only consider the dusting, polishing and vacuuming necessary, but first go through the room and take most of the items on your surfaces away.  Put them away out of sight in a drawer or relocate them all together.  If you take personal items and décor out of your room it will: 1. Be easier to clean, 2. Be easier to KEEP clean throughout the holiday season, and 3. Make room for the holiday decorations soon to come down from the attic.  Less is more in your living space.  Your guests will feel more comfortable if they have space to put down their beverage and aren’t worried about breaking any cherished knickknacks. While you’re at it, consider the layout and furniture arrangement of your main room.  Make sure it is conducive to traffic flow, seating and conversations between the group you are expecting.

The dining area:

Here is my favorite part of holiday decorating … table-scaping! It’s time to clear off your table (if it has gotten buried by the trials of life) and give it a good polish.  Get out the table linens, serving plates, dishware, glasses and flatware that you plan to use for your event.  Make sure they are clean and ready to use and arrange them on the table to make sure everything looks good together before the big day.

The kitchen:

If you have an open floor plan or anticipate guests may want to join you in the kitchen, make sure you don’t overlook this area of your home.  The best parties always end up in the kitchen right?  The basics that need attention are your counters, range, sink and the outside surfaces of your cabinets and appliances.  But, don’t forget the inside of the fridge!  Entertaining guests calls for more food, so empty out the unused items in your fridge and make room.  Since it’s mostly emptied out, now is a great time to wipe all of your shelving and take out the drawers for a good cleaning.  Do the same with your pantry too.  You will have new party supplies and food that won’t be going into the fridge.  Cleaning out your pantry will not only make room, it might also be an opportunity to donate to your local food pantry.  Just like you need to plan out your tableware, you also need to think about holiday baking and pans you might need to use for your event. Also, clear everything off your countertops.  You need to make room for baking and food preparation, as well as have space to lay out the food you are serving.  Give yourself the workspace you need and also give your kitchen a less cluttered look for your guests by stowing anything that won’t need immediate use like toaster ovens, catch-alls, etc.

The guest bathroom:

The last area that will need some attention before your guests arrive is the bathroom they will be using during their visit.  Give all surfaces a good scrub and be sure to leave out necessities your guests may need like extra paper rolls, clean towels, etc.  Reward yourself after some heavy duty cleaning by adding some decorative touches to the bathroom.  Discount stores have lots of cute ways to bring some holiday cheer to your bathroom like decorative soaps, towels and mats.  Other good choices are a scented candle or small arrangement of flowers.

Ready to celebrate and enjoy!

Now that you have tackled those major areas in your home, you are ready to relax and enjoy your beautiful home with your family and friends. I hope that this will at least take some of the stress out of your holiday planning, or maybe even inspire you to tackle all the rooms in your house!  Of course if you want a completely stress free holiday preparation just leave the cleaning to us!  We are just a phone call away.  But make the call soon, the two weeks before Thanksgiving are our busiest of the season and they fill up very fast!