It never fails. You have weeks, or even months, to get your house in order before family arrives to celebrate the holidays. But now it’s days, or even hours, before their arrival, and well, you’re nowhere near ready. Heed a few tips to get your house in great shape before the family descends on you.
Know where to go
You don’t need to deep-clean every inch of your house. There are lots of places your guests will probably never venture, and you can always close the doors to rooms you don’t plan on using.
Start in the bathroom your guests will use, along with the kitchen and dining or entertaining area where your guests will spend most of their time. Skip areas of the house or rooms your guests won’t see, such as second-floor hallways, bedrooms and your home office.
Make your cleaning products work for you
Maximize your time by spraying your toilets, baths, showers, and sinks and then leave to do something else. Come back after a few minutes and wipe clean.
Pick up your stuff
Go through your entire home and pick up everything that is on the floor and not in its proper place. You probably have an extra box somewhere that can act as a catch-all for that stuff that seems to multiply in your house. If not, a laundry basket will do in a pinch.
Now it’s time to figure out where to put all that stuff. Your favorite spots for relocating items (like your guest room or guest closets) may not work this time around. Chances are, your master bedroom is the safe spot. You may not love the idea of all those toys or knickknacks or all the clothes you’ve been meaning to donate that have been hanging out on the guest room bed gathering in the corner of your room or under your bed or in your closet for a few days, but it’s probably better than your Aunt Molly snuggling up with three years’ worth of your kids’ too-small clothes.
Clean off those countertops
Assuming you’re going to be cooking over the holidays, you’re going to need space to do it. Time to pare down the accessories. Think like a home stager and pack away the non-essentials. Not only will it give you the work space you want, but also a cleaner look in your kitchen.
Put socks on everyone in the house
While you’re running around frantically, you’re doing double duty by picking up the dust on the floor.
Socks on hands works, too
Your kids may want to help, but their help may not actually be so helpful. Finding tasks they can do that will keep them out of your way is key. When those tasks actually make a difference – even better. Socks on little hands make great dusters. Send them toward surfaces that need work and don’t have breakables. They can also swipe along baseboards and blinds. A non-toxic cleaning product (for older kids) or just plain water for the little ones is even more effective.
Put out fresh bedding
If you haven’t had time to make the guest bed, throw a clean comforter down and let your guests know the sheets are in the wash (and then get the sheets in the wash!). Didn’t (and don’t) have time to get new bedding, like you’d hoped? Do the best with what you’ve got. If your bedding is the nicest in the house, which it should be, and it’s the same size as your guest bed, use your extra sheets for your guests. If you have a king and your guest bed is a queen, you can still make it work.
Get some fresh flowers
Right. Flowers are probably the last thing on your mind with so much else to do. But if you have to run to the market at some point anyway (and you know you do!), pick up a couple of bunches of fresh flowers for the house–one for an entry table and one for the side table in your guest room. At least there will be something pretty to look at, and, even better if they smell good, too.
Speaking of smells…
Nothing can dampen the hospitality your guests experience like a houseful of questionable odors. If you have pets, or kids, or both, you may want to freshen up the house. And, you may not even realize there are odor issues if you live what them every day, Tackle the obvious offenders, like cat litter boxes and athletic shoes (turning them upside down is a quick way to cut the smell, but it might be best to take them into the garage for a few days). Invite a trusted neighbor who will be honest with you on this touchy issue to do a walk-through. Remaining smells that are lingering can be taken care of with Febreze and plug-in air fresheners.