Do you have the honor of hosting friends and family this holiday season?
Prepping your home and the food can seem like a daunting task if you don’t know where to start.
Just follow these simple tips for cleaning up before and after the holidays, and you’ll be stress-free and ready to host in no time.
Before your guests arrive:
Of course you want your guests to feel comfortable and welcome, but you also want to feel comfortable inviting guests into your home. If you’re stressing out about getting your home in order before your friends and family arrive, focus on these main places and you’ll quickly have your floors sparkling and kitchen spotless.
Make an entrance
The first impression your guests will have is of your entrance. After you scrub the floors, pay attention to any furniture in the entrance, and make sure to wipe down the legs. Check to see that there are no marks on the front door by wiping it down and finishing it off with a wreath or decorative item of your choice. If you have the space, consider adding festive lights and/or evergreen plants outside your front door.
Scrub past the surface
In the kitchen and bathroom, don’t just wipe the counters and surfaces. You’ll want to focus on the lesser-cleaned spots that are hard to reach or clean to give these spaces a fresh and welcoming feel. The deeper you clean now, the easier it will be later to clean up after your guests leave.
People tend to gather where the food is, so make sure the kitchen counters are clear and that all unnecessary items are stored away. After the counters have been cleared, open your refrigerator. Lots of cooking happens over the holidays, and oftentimes guests will bring dishes to share too. Make sure you have room for your ingredients and then for the leftovers you’re sure to end up with.
If you have personal items in the restroom that guests will be using, store them and make sure extra towels and bath tissue are easy to find.
Watch out for your windows
Windows shouldn’t draw people’s attention, but if they are dirty and streaked, they definitely will. Use a reusable microfiber cloth to clean them inside and out. Clean windows will also make your home feel brighter and bigger.
Anticipate the mess
There’s no way to avoid a mess when it comes to hosting friends and family, especially when overnight guests are involved. Accept that all the cleaning and prep you are doing is not going to last–at least not completely–and allow yourself to relax when guests begin to arrive.
Here are a few preventative steps that you can take:
- When guests arrive, have them take off shoes and coats and store them in a closet or unused room so they don’t clutter the common areas.
- Encourage overnight guests to unpack and settle in right away so their luggage is out of the way and they’re able to find a place for their belongings.
- Make sure coasters, napkins, and trash bins are in plain sight to avoid unwanted rings, spills, or trash left behind.
- Buy disposable plates for leftovers and desserts. Guests won’t mind as long as the main meal is presented beautifully. All they’ll care about after the main event is enjoying the delicious leftovers!
- Use disposable plastic cups and provide a sharpie so you aren’t being wasteful.
- Place mats and rugs inside and outside every door to reduce the amount of dirt that is tracked in, and shake out the mats you already have placed. Consider placing more mats throughout your home in high-traffic areas, too.
- Clean as you go, whether you are cooking, eating, or opening presents.
- If children are present, enlist them to clean up their toys or messes and bring their own dishes to the kitchen. It will reinforce good manners and help you out at the same time.
After your guests leave…
Relax! You made it through another holiday. Once you’ve patted yourself on the back for a party well done, it’s time to focus on a quick and efficient cleanup.
Consolidate the leftovers
Any food you didn’t send home with guests should be assessed and moved into smaller containers. You might even want to consider portioning them out as individual meals to make it easy to enjoy them over the next few days.
Start putting everything back where it belongs: blankets, counter appliances, rugs, decor, etc. Collect anything left behind and take pictures to send to your guests so they can reclaim their lost belongings.
Tackle the surfaces
Thanks to your deep cleaning before your guests arrived, you should have less scrubbing to do this time around. Make sure your appliances, refrigerator, kitchen and bathroom counters, and floors are given a good wipe-down to make your home feel like a home again.
Wash the linens
Hand towels, bath towels, sheets, and pillowcases will need to be washed. Pour a capful of white vinegar in the wash to make them even fresher.
Take down the decorations
Just because your holiday decorations come down doesn’t mean your home has to lose its cozy and festive feel. Put away all holiday-related decor in early January, but continue to embrace the coziness of “winter” in the South. Fuzzy blankets, candles, and soft rugs will have you feeling comfy and warm during our cool nights without it looking like you were too lazy to take down your lights.
If you have a real tree or lots of used gift wrap to throw out, coordinate removing them from your home with the holiday-trash pickup schedule.
Do you have any holiday prep and cleanup tips? Leave them in a comment and we may add them to our post!