For many households, the fall season is synonymous with holidays and entertaining. Getting your home ready for the holiday season requires more than just tidying up, dusting, vacuuming and cleaning the bathrooms.
You may need to expand your food storage, create space for holiday visitors and overnight guests and prioritize home maintenance. Keep reading for 10 tips to ensure your home is ship-shape before your company arrives and the holidays officially begin.
1. Delegate duties
Take the time to even out the holiday hustle and delegate tasks to other members of your household. Spreading out the workload can help you save time and stress, not to mention get everyone in the holiday spirit. Want to up the fun-factor for the kiddos? Try some fun cleaning games for kids.
2. Entryway at the ready
Your entryway is the first impression guests get of your home, so it’s important to make it count. Before you start to decorate, take some time to reorganize your entryway to accommodate the colder, wetter weather. Place a heavy rug and boot scraper outside, and make sure there are slip-proof mats inside to wipe your shoes. It’s also helpful to make space for a bench or chair, as well as a basket or bucket; that way, everyone has a place to sit and store their footwear.
Next, make sure your coat rack is up to the challenge of extra-heavy coats and hats, and that your wet umbrellas have a proper place so they won’t drip onto the floor. Lastly, protect your entryway flooring by laying down a rug that can take a bit of seasonal abuse.
After you’ve added the fall and winter necessities, get creative with decorations. Consider adding garland, lights, decorative pumpkins and gourds, candles or festive throw pillows and blankets.
3. Cut the clutter
Look for any clutter that may have accumulated over the past year, especially around the living room, entryway, kitchen and other popular gathering spaces. Get rid of old mail, boxes, newspapers and spent candles, then store any decor or personal items you don’t need sitting out.
Once you’ve cleared your space, dust flat surfaces like your mantel, media center and ceiling fans. Then take to the floors: vacuum, sweep and mop, making sure to go underneath furniture and in corners.
4. Deep clean the kitchen
A good deep kitchen clean will make it that much more enjoyable to cook and entertain for the holidays. Start from the top by scrubbing your ceiling fans and light fixtures, then address your walls, windows and window coverings, cabinets, countertops stove, sink and floors.
Pro tip: Don’t forget to clean your fridge, so you have a clean place to store your ingredients and delicious leftovers. Start by emptying out the fridge, then scrub the shelves and walls with a mix of one part vinegar and one part water. If you have a fresh box of baking soda, open it and leave it in your refrigerator to keep odors at bay.
5. Expand your food storage space
Start by cleaning out your pantry and kitchen cabinets. Get rid of expired food and organize your essentials in baskets or containers. If you have a lot of non-perishable items—like canned vegetables, dried pasta or soups—that you know you won’t eat in time, set them aside to donate to a local shelter.
If you need even more storage room, consider whether or not there are alternative cool, dry spaces that could work as pantry overflow. Think: a safe corner in your garage or basement where you can stack items like soda cans, boxes of cereal, bags of rice and boxes of wine. If you have extra items you need to refrigerate, consider digging up the cooler you may have just put away from the summer season. Simply fill it with ice or ice packs, then use it to store drinks, desserts or hors d'oeuvres that may be taking up too much space in your already packed refrigerator. Just be sure to keep everything at a safe temperature and follow the golden rule: when in doubt, throw it out.
6. Get proactive with your plumbing
There’s nothing like a leaky faucet, clogged toilet, broken pipe or busted water heater to turn a great day into a disaster, not to mention eat up any extra funds in an already cash-strapped season. Fortunately, with regular maintenance and some basic plumbing knowledge, you can prevent these types of problems. To keep your plumbing in good shape, work on doing the following before your guests come over:
- Clean out slow or clogged drains
- Investigate pipes and appliances for water leaks
- Snake your sewer lines
- Test your water pressure
- Limit food down the kitchen drain
- Put fats, oils and grease in the garbage
- Check for tree root damage
- Install a backwater valve
7. Stock dinnerware
Go through your collection of plates, glasses, silverware and serving dishes to make sure you have enough for all your guests and holiday meals. If you think you'll need more of anything, ask a friend or neighbor to borrow an item or two.
On the day of your holiday event, fill your sink with warm, sudsy water so you can soak dirty dishes as you cook. Then empty your dishwasher ahead of time for easy post-meal cleanup.
8. Clean and stock the bathroom
Before your guests lay eyes on your powder room, make sure it’s clean, fresh and well-stocked. Start by giving the toilet, sink and shower a good scrub, make sure the mirrors are sparkling clean and mop the floors. You may even want to put a package of cleaning wipes under the sink so you can wipe down the sink, counter and toilet in a jiffy.
Next, take inventory of your bathroom supplies. Restock the toilet paper, tissue soap and towels. and stock the bathroom your guests will be using with plenty of toilet paper and clean towels. It’s also helpful to have a plunger on hand in case of emergencies, as well as extras like toothpicks, floss and air fresheners so guests are more comfortable.
9. Create extra seating and space
Holiday entertaining already means hosting more guests than your typical Saturday dinner party, but in 2021, you may need even more space so your guests can socially distance themselves. Here are some creative ways to give your guests more space to eat, sit and stand in comfort.
- Build a bigger table: Whether you purchase a longer, collapsible table or decide to create one from a couple of sawhorses and a slab of wood, the more table space the better.
- Kids table(s): Adding a kids table can lighten the load your main table has to carry. If one kids table isn’t enough, consider adding a few tables or seating areas broken out by age group; that way, you can supply your younger guests with age-appropriate decor and supplies to keep them entertained.
- Create intentional visiting areas: Don’t be afraid to repurpose furniture from other rooms. You can bring chairs, desks and tables from other rooms to create intimate areas for guests to gather or dine. A collection of smaller tables in the vicinity of the main dining area can create a cozy restaurant-like atmosphere that still allows for conversation.
- Go buffet: Creating a buffet and/or bar station makes it easy for guests to fill their plates and cups at their own leisure, then find their own seats around your home. Bonus: this method can also save on the number of dishes and cups you use.
- Respect the RSVP: When hosting, ask your guests to RSVP in advance so you can plan ahead with seating, supplies and food.
10. Get your home sleepover ready
If you're hosting overnight guests for the holidays, take the time to make their stay as comfortable as possible. Start by gathering and washing all the extra linens you’ll need, including sheets, blankets, comforters and towels. Next, clean the ceiling fan, dust the surfaces and vacuum the floors. Finally, gather any extra items you’ll need, like an inflatable bed, extra pillow, small fan or luggage rack.
Pro tip: If your supplies have been in storage for a while, make sure to air them out, scrub or disinfect them.
Make fall entertaining easy
Entertaining during the holidays can be overwhelming, but taking the time to prepare and clean your home in advance can help you spend less time stressing and more time making memories.
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