8 Tips for Getting Your Home Ready for the Holidays
With these tips and tricks, you'll be ready to welcome your guests and not feel stressed.
Prepping for the holidays can be stressful — there's no doubt about that. But with proper planning, you can enjoy a relaxing time with friends and family without the worries.
1 Holiday Mantel, 3 Ways
A beautifully decorated mantel can set the tone for the holiday just as much as your tree. Here are three easy, stand-out looks that can make any fireplace more festive.
Brian Patrick Flynn, FlynnsideOut
Just follow these helpful, last-minute tips to guide you in the right path of a stress-free season.
Spruce Up the Main Spaces
Don’t worry about getting every nook and cranny. Put your focus on the main areas in your home that guests will be seeing like the front porch, entryway, kitchen, living room and bathrooms. Easily declutter spaces with a laundry basket you can hide away in your closet. A quick dusting with an old sock isn’t a bad idea, either.
Make a Schedule and Stick to It
Set aside a specific time to get your chores done. "Nobody hires a cleaning service that promises to arrive some random Saturday when nothing else is happening," Cynthia Townley Ewer, author ofHouseworks, says, "Take a tip from the pros and set up a regular cleaning schedule. Pros don’t quit until the job is done. Schedule the job and stick to it to get the work done in record time."
Dress for Success
Professional cleaners dress in comfortable, washable clothing designed for work. Supportive shoes and kneepads spare their bodies. Goggles and gloves protect against chemicals. Throw out the bleach-stained sweatshirts, and create a cleaning uniform that includes shoes, gloves and eye protection.
"There's a reason the pros can tote all the products they need in one tray," Cynthia explains "They've simplified their cleaning products down to four basic supplies:
- Powdered abrasive cleanser
- Tile and bathroom cleaner
- Heavy-duty degreasing cleaner
- Light-duty evaporating cleaner (glass cleaner or multi-surface cleaner)
That's it! No soap scum remover, no special counter spray, no single-use products designed to clean only blinds or fans or walls. The professionals know that with these four simple products they'll be able to handle any ordinary cleaning chore."
Tote Your Tools
For efficiency sake, professional cleaners tote all their tools with them. All their tools — cleansers, brushes and rags — are right there in the tote tray. Vacuum, mop and mini-vac wait in the doorway. A plastic bag for trash is tucked into a pocket, next to the waving lamb's wool duster. That’s why the pro has finished the entire bathroom before our amateur makes it back up the stairs with the powdered cleanser.
Minimize Your Movement
"Professional cleaners don’t circle a room more than once. Taking their place before the bathroom sink, they’ll spray and wipe the mirror, scrub the sink, wipe down counters and polish fixtures before they move one inch to the right or left," says Cynthia.
"Don’t get physical with your cleaning sessions; make every movement count. Stand fast and clean everything in your path before you move on."
Pick It Up Before You Clean
"Professional cleaners come to clean, not to tidy counters, furniture, appliances and floors. They can’t do the job if each horizontal surface in the home is covered with papers, toys, dirty dishes and just plain clutter," Cynthia explains. "Pretend that you’ve hired a high-priced cleaning crew. You wouldn’t make them relocate the clutter just to be able to do their job. Give yourself the same head start — pick up before you clean."
Two Hands Are Better Than One
"The pros don’t work as if one arm is in a sling and neither should you. Get in the habit of using both hands to attack cleaning tasks," advises Cynthia.
"Spray a mirror with one hand; wipe it down with the other. Scrub counters with two sponges or cleaning cloths. Dusting goes twice as fast when a lamb's wool duster in one hand cleans nooks and crannies while the cleaning cloth in the other skims flat surfaces."
Use Seasonal Scents
Have your home smelling delightful with holiday-scented candles or stovetop scents that will warmly welcome your guests as they enter the home.
Set the Table
It's time to bring out the fancy dishes. Create a lovely, festive tablescape complete with printable place-cards, color-coordinated dinnerware and fresh, seasonal blooms.
Andrew McGary, © 2014 HGTV/Scripps Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved
The Finishing Touch
Complete your holiday table with custom place cards. Just fill in the name of each guest and print. They're fast and easy, and everyone is sure to be impressed. Click here to download the simple instructions.
The place cards can be tent folded or put into stands. If you're looking for a creative alternative to the standard holder, place name cards in wine corks (cut a slice in the top), pine cones or a Christmas ornament (slide it into the wire on top). Click here to download the template.
You can change the font and alter its size as long as you stay with in the margins. On this template, there are two red stripe cards with a banner and two blue stripe cards with pinecones.
New Year's Dinner
An elegant dinner party is not complete without a glitzy place setting. Download the template, fill in the names, print, then add some glitter to make your place cards sparkle. Click here to download the template.
Clean the Fridge + Oven
If you plan on cooking the holiday feast, it's a good idea to start by cleansing the fridge and giving the oven a deep clean. Another tip? Plan ahead and figure out what food you can make beforehand. There’s nothing more stressful than trying to prepare a big dinner for your guests in a day. Pies and side dishes can be prepped a few days before, so all you need to do is bake them.
Prepare for Houseguests
Make your guests feel welcomed and loved by taking the time to tidy up the guest room and bathroom for those friends or relatives staying for a few nights. Be sure they have plenty of clean towels, toiletries, blankets and pillows to make them feel right at home.
Clean the Floors
While it may seem like a daunting task, cleaning your own floors without the help of a professional is possible. We have all the tips you need to clean carpet, vinyl, hardwood and tile. Get expert advice for every floor type besides carpet here.
Clean White Living Space is Open, Welcoming
The open floor plan of this Driftwood, Tex., home combines the living space and dining room. A traditional table is surrounded by shield-back chairs and highlighted by a classic chandelier in the dining space. The living room features comfortable yet contemporary furniture, focused on the limestone fireplace.
Be Prepared for Baby
If you don't have kids of your own, your guests that do have kids will thank you for spending the time to make sure the home is baby-proof. Just being aware of what baby can reach is a good method to go by.
Inexpensive Fridge Hack
Little hands invading the fridge can be deterred with this clever trick: two sticky, non-permanent hooks and an elastic band. Place them higher on the refrigerator and the door will remain closed. Once you feel your child has a handle on fridge restraint – viola! It’s easy to remove the hooks.
Where Do You Think You're Going?
Keep kids, especially any tiny sleepwalkers, inside with doorknob covers. The cover aims for tamper-resistance by spinning when little hands try to grab them but adults can easily grip the cover properly and open the door. They can be easly removed when everyone in the house is okay to have access.
Soften the Sharp Edges
When little ones start to walk they often 'pull up' on furniture. Applying stick-on, removable corner cushions may help prevent bruises and bumps from furniture edges. And when they really start picking up speed, corner cushions can protect from run-ins with sharp corners.
Build a Fire
Up the cozy factor with a crackling fire going as you entertain your guests. Keep fuzzy blankets handy for those not as close to the fireplace. Enjoy cocktails and conversation with your company — you deserve it!
If your television doesn’t match your winter decor, hang a piece of artwork over it to cover it up. Canvases tend to be light and easy to hang.
Hint: If you don’t have one like this on hand, you can wrap a blank canvas in any wrapping paper you like. You’ll be gifting your guests with a tech-free party.