When I think about the holidays growing up, I remember the magic. My mom, notorious for her decorating and hosting skills, never made the holidays feel stressful, whether hosting an elegant dinner for our immediate family on Christmas Eve or 80 people for a Winter White holiday extravaganza.
As an adult, I truly appreciate my mom’s willingness to open her home – because with at-home parties means lots of prep, cleaning, and decorating. I used to stay up with my parents until every last beautiful, delicate champagne glass was hand washed and put away, and even after seeing all the work that went into my family’s plentiful parties, I was not averse to hosting. In fact, the hosting gene runs strong and true in my blood!
But I’m also kind of
crazy picky when it comes to opening my home to guests. However, since I do love hosting, I’ve come up with a system to clean and prep before the party. Now that I have kids, I want to continue the traditions my parents set of opening my home to holiday parties while creating a stress-free environment for my girls.
Prepping Your Home For the Holidays
Here are my tried and true tips for prepping your home for holiday parties:
1. Clean main party areas the night before.
Once I get into serious cleaning mode, all hell breaks loose. What starts as just putting laundry away turns into a complete overhaul of all bedroom closets, dressers, and armoires, which is a project that isn’t resolved for days.
Don’t do that.
Instead, decide what the main party areas will be and focus your efforts only in those areas, paying special attention to the kitchen, where everyone always ends up. You can save your total cleaning frenzy, which I totally approve of, for another time. Just not party time.
2. Declutter, then clean.
While you may be used to, and thus immune to, your clutter, party time is a great time for all the miscellaneous clutter to find its rightful home. Look around for piles of mail, disheveled decor, random shoes and socks, and toys and find the right place for them, which may very well be in the donation or trash piles. You can’t properly clean without decluttering first.
3. Clean smarter, not harder.
Most people don’t like to clean – save the time you would be cleaning and spend it with your family and friends by cleaning smarter.
Hardwood floors: make your wood floors sparkle with Bona PowerPlus, perfect for pre and post-party cleanup. The surfactant loosens even heavy build-up while the oxygenated bubbling action deeply cleans debris. Plus, you can put your kids to work – honestly, mine fights me for it! Put on some Christmas music while you’re at it.
Stainless steel: why did I only recently learn about stainless steel wipes?? I tried every cleaner and microfiber cloth out there and everything always left streaks. These wipes allow you to make your appliances shiny and new with a few swipe swipe swipes.
4. Don’t stash.
My signature move growing up to “help” my mom clean before a party was to take piles of stuff and stash it somewhere out of site. I don’t recommend that. There’s nothing worse than the day after a party when you just want to relax in your jammies all day but you realize there are piles of random stuff everywhere. Take the extra time a day or two before the party to start the decluttering process to avoid the dredded stash o’ stuff.
5. Scent your home.
Scents are an overlooked part of your party, but they make a strong impression, set the tone, and if you’re anything like me, scents are extremely important! Assume your guests are like me. You can choose candles in tall glass hurricaines to keep it safe, or why not simmer some yummy holiday scents on the stove, like orange peel, vanilla bean, and cinnamon sticks?
6. Don’t forget the bathroom.
Not much turns me off more than a dirty bathroom. Yuck. Make sure to clean your guest bathroom by disinfecting and wiping down all surface areas, including in the sink and behind the toilet lid. Also give your toilet a scrub down by lifting the seat and cleaning under the rim, too. Skip sweeping and mopping and instead use a disinfectant wipe on the floor for a quick one-step process, and empty the trash, too. Add a bud vase and a candle to keep up the ambiance without going totally overboard with decorations.