The Holidays are upon us, and that means lots of visitors, well wishers, and family. We love this season, but life gets so busy, I never feel like I have time to really get the house ready for guests. Just when one event ends, or one set of visitors leaves, another arrives. And just when one holiday is over, another one is upon us. Mix in the everyday needs of our family and it seems impossible to prepare the house.
Here are a few easy cleaning/organizing tips to help you get your house ready for the holidays and seasonal visitors.
First, pretend you’re a house guest.
I like to do this at least a month before the holidays hit. With pen and paper in hand, I start at the front door and walk through the house just like our guests will. I walk through the kitchen, sit in the bathroom and look around, lay on the beds they will be sleeping in, and walk throughout the house following the paths they are most likely to walk. We spend so much time in our own homes, we can subconsciously overlook the clutter and dust. Pretending to be a guest gives a new perspective and lets me know where I need to focus my efforts.
I used to have a machine or product for every thing I had to clean. A vacuum, a mop, a steamer, a cleaner for the sink, a different cleaner for the toilets. You get the picture. I found that just storing all those things, getting them out, moving them around the house, and then using them, took up extra time, energy and effort. It is hard enough to manage so many tools and supplies day-to-day. It is even harder to manage during the holidays with guests and visitors. Getting everything out when guests are around isn’t my idea of entertaining. So now, wherever possible, I use and buy tools and machines that can multitask. I use a multipurpose cleaner that works for all our cleaning needs, and I have simplified to just one machine, a bagless vacuum and steam mop in one. It works on all floor types.
Simplifying has cut my holiday cleaning in half. I am able to get a deep clean, without spending hours doing it.
Get Yourself a Basket
Holiday guests mean lots of odds and ends get left around the house. Kids have the toys out all day. We often rush from event to event, and house guests don’t always know where things go or put things away. This might seem silly, but one of the best gifts I have given myself are two long, skinny baskets that fit on our stairs. One sits on the downstairs and one on the upstairs. Instead of running up and down the stairs all day long, putting items away one-by-one, I simply put them in the basket. Then I take one trip upstairs to put everything away at once. It is a great way to keep the house tidy, and saves time.
Laundry Every Day
Laundry is the hard to keep up with over the holidays. The best way to conquer the laundry pile is to do a load every. single. day. With holiday house guests, I don’t have the liberty to spend an entire day folding ten loads of laundry and taking over the entire family room while I do it. Get up in the morning and put a load in first thing. By lunch, you can have it folded and put away. Because you do a load every day, the loads stay relatively small and manageable. Promise, it will save you.
Effort Where it Matters Most
Guests will spend the most time in the kitchen and the bathrooms. Pay close attention to these two areas. Give everything an extra scrub and wipe. In the kitchen, take a few minutes to clean out the fridge so there is room for leftovers, clean the microwave and oven, and straighten out cupboards and drawers so when the cooking festivities begin, family and friends won’t have loose tupperware falling on their heads. (I may or may not be talking from experience). Don’t forget the top of the fridge. I am not tall enough to see up there, but a lot of your house guests will be.
A few other random tips and tricks I love to use around the house…
- With all the extra holiday cooking, it is not uncommon to have a spill or two in your oven. Do you need to clean your grill or oven racks? Lay grates and racks outside on your grass overnight. The wet grass will loosen the grease and you will be able to wash it clean with little scrubbing.
- When you have a pot boil over, and can’t clean it up immediately, sprinkle salt on the spill so it will be easier to clean up when you have the time.
- Rub a cut lemon on the stove to remove splatters. Then wipe clean. Put the lemon halves down the disposal when you are done for a fresh lemon-y scent.
- Put on a pair of cotton gloves to clean the blinds. Spray one hand with window cleaner and wipe the blinds, fingers running in between the individual blinds. Follow with the other hand to dry them off.
- With your dishwasher empty, fill your soap spot with a package of Lemonade Kool-Aid and run your dishwasher. It will help break down the build up that occurs over time.
- Use a pumice stone to remove the stubborn stains around your toilet. (You can buy them at stores like Bed Bath and Beyond, Target etc.) You can also clean porcelain with baking soda, just make sure it is wet.
- After you clean your shower, rub Old English Lemon Oil all over the shower and on the shower door. You shower will stay cleaner longer. (Old English is typically used to polish wood furniture.)
- Use baby oil on your shower door. It will prevent water spots and scum. Just keep it away from your kids, if they drink it, it can be deadly.
- Make your bed every day. My husband doesn’t understand this one. He always says he is going to get right back in at the end of the day, so why make it? It does make a difference, make it any way.
This holiday season, take a few steps to prepare for house guests, so that you can enjoy the time together with family and friends.
Homemaker, wife and mother. My husband and I have five children. On the side I am an adjunct faculty member at Brigham Young University where I received a Masters Degree in Youth and Family Recreation. Three times a week I endeavor to teach college students the importance of families doing things together. Then I come home and try to figure out how to implement what I just taught. Believe me I know, It is a lot easier said than done. I used to speak French, wish I could dance, and will almost always choose fruity over chocolate.
Heather is the author of Family Volley, where writes about parenting, motherhood and relationships.