Is your house ready for the rush of holiday gatherings?
You’ve agreed to host the holiday gathering at your house and you’re motivated to get a few things in order. You need space for out of town guests to sleep, area for kids to play, and you have a whole lot of cooking prep to do. Your house isn’t horribly disorganized, I mean you’ve been surviving and getting things done the last few months, but when 30 other people will be in the house, you start to view things through a different lens. Not that you need to be the HGTV house, but it gives you a little extra motivation to purge, re-arrange, and shine-up a bit more than you would have otherwise.
I don’t know about you, but every time we are scheduled to have out of town guests at our house, it puts a little extra fire under me to complete a couple unfinished projects and finally finish hauling away the donation box items.
What is a priority and where do you begin?
Realistic approach. You can’t do a house remodel with three weeks notice, so control your potential desire to do a complete overhaul. Make a list of the realistic things you can accomplish and work from that. It is easy to get off task and want to “quick” re-paint a room [speaking from experience!], but remember to be realistic based on time, energy, and budget. If larger projects come to the surface as you work towards the holidays, it’s a great time to start a list of to-dos for the New Year.
Food arrangement. Holiday hosting means a whole lot of extra cans, jars, and bags to store. Clean out the pantry and the fridge by getting rid of anything expired; donate food that is no longer of interest; and categorize like with like. Purchase small containers or baskets if necessary to keep loose items together on the pantry shelves. Wipe down the shelves and store as much as you can up off the floor. Allow for some empty space so you can fit the holiday grocery shopping goods in. If you have limited space in the kitchen, designate a place in the garage or utility room to store the seasonal grocery items until you’re ready to use them.
Social area. People need space to gather and kids need an area to play. In your main living area, thin down on the piles of magazines, books, DVDs, cords, and miscellaneous items that have filled in the cracks of the room. Decorations are wonderful, but many times less is more. Have cleared surface areas for people to put drinks and plates as needed. If you have the space, designate a room or basement area for kids toys and activities. Sort out toys that are age appropriate and games that have all the pieces. Purge out old broken toys or ones kids have grown out of. Don’t let them have the run of your house searching for “toys.”
Sleeping space. If people will be staying the holidays at your house 24/7 it’s time to spruce up those guest room[s]. Now, this isn’t the time to do a complete overhaul of every closet [unless you got a really early head start], but you can definitely clear the nightstands, the bed, and a small space in the closet for hanging clothes. Setting up a little guest tray is a nice touch, with water, tissue, mints, or other welcome toiletry essentials. Make them feel comfortable, but not too comfortable that they want to move in. [wink, wink]
The kitchen. No matter how much work you do purging out the rest of the house, people always migrate to the kitchen. They stand to chat and they help themselves to your cupboards as they look for serving utensils. Purge ONE drawer at a time and then ONE cupboard at a time. Pull out broken or melted trays, items that are rarely used, and discard or donate. Pull everything out of the deep cupboards that in order to find the lost dishes and treasures you’ve shoved back there [we all have those cupboards]. Wipe out the inside of the drawers [especially the silverware and utensil drawers]. Wipe down the outside of the cabinets and be sure the counter is cleared of paper piles and non-kitchen related items. If you have visiting family that tends to help themselves freely, consider putting temporary labels on the frequently used cabinets: silverware, napkins, pot holders, cups. Every kitchen has paper, resist stuffing the counter piles of papers and bills into a drawer, but rather take the time to go through them and file or address them. Forcing yourself to make the choice rather than just stash them will help you feel that much more prepared to host the holidays knowing things are in order.
The small things. If time and energy allows, other areas that are beneficial to purge through and create space are the coat closet, front entryway/mud room, and the utility room. Be sure all the laundry is caught up and put away as much as possible. Enlist the kids to help in all these small areas. In the bathrooms be sure the counters are clear and if someone searches for a new toilet paper roll, all the contents of your bathroom don’t tumble out on them.
Remember you don’t have to completely overhaul each area, but give some extra love and attention to each space, keeping in mind less is more. Make the choice now instead of just figuring out ways to hide things.
Hosting for the holidays is about family togetherness and generosity. The contents of our homes don’t really matter, but a little bit of order can allow you to fully embrace your hosting responsibilities with pride and hopefully a sigh of relief.