Are you dreading – or anticipating the mess – that usually comes during Thanksgiving or Christmas/Hanukah? You’re not alone.
There’s a lot of pressure to prepare for this double whammy, keep the house clean and tidy, as well as prepare food, wrap presents, entertain, and the list goes on. And then our thoughts drift to cleaning up afterwards – ugh! If you are wondering how to cope this year with the clean up without spoiling the magic of this time of year, read on.
First and foremost, it’s more important to enjoy the holiday and remember it positively, than it is to try to keep your home spotless. If you need a clean tidy environment to be able to relax, then work out what your priority areas are so you can let go of some things. So, what’s the plan? It’s basically the KISS principle – Keep It Super Simple:
• Set small amounts of time that you clean each day and focus on the key living spaces (use a 15-minute timer set on the microwave).
• Keep the sink clean.
• Give your family small assigned, age-appropriate tasks like taking out the garbage, setting the table; putting dishes in the dishwasher for the holidays so the workload is distributed. Make the entertaining a team effort! I find that my boys love serving the drinks or snacks to adults.
• Set some simple rules such as nothing is dropped in the front hallway during the holiday period – shoes, purses, knap sacks, whatever, go to each person’s room.
• Take cleaning short-cuts with double-duty products.
• Tidy pillows on the sofa and sweep up magazines and newspapers into a pretty basket.
• Clear away knickknacks and leave space on coffee tables, shelves, counters and entranceway. It looks less messy when more stuff gets added with guests and presents.
• Limit where you put your holiday decorations. Just do a few arrangements that have an impact.
• Finally, close the bedroom and laundry doors if they’re a mess that you don’t want guests to see!
For the holiday meal, try to pare down on a formal table; instead serve buffet style; use pretty paper napkins instead of linens; and even consider good plastic plates and cutlery you can toss in the garbage if you have a crowd. Go pot-luck for the appetizers and desserts to cut down on your time to prepare. People always ask, “what can I bring?” – this time tell them!
Ask guests to help: bring dishes off the table, stack them, or put them in the dishwasher; put saran wrap on food going in the fridge or freezer; throw out the recycling or the garbage. Put on some coffee on or keep the wine coming while you and your friends do the dishes – buy some fun, inexpensive holiday dish towels and give one to each of them to take home as a thank you for helping to clean up.
Clean in advance just the areas that will be in high use during the holiday meal. Use double-duty cleaning products like Lysol Disinfecting Wipes to clean the toilet seat and lid; another for the sink and vanity top, use more to wipe the kitchen counter-tops down, etc. Tip: stash a can in each room where you need them, so if you’re in the bathroom and see a spill you can quickly wipe up and walk out!
Do you have a lightweight stick vacuum you can keep in the pantry or nearby closet? A friend of mine does and keeps it charged so if there’s a mess on the floor in the kitchen or family room, it’s a minute or two to quickly get it up the obvious stuff instead of a full-fledged job.
Having a guest overnight? Go with no prep stuff: cereal, fruit, yogurt, and muffins that people can self-serve when they get up and set the timer for the coffee to go on so there’s nothing to do for breakfast on Black Friday. Let guests clean up after themselves.
For Christmas, put a big trash bag near the sofa, as gifts get opened wrapping paper is tossed in. At the end of the day, ask each family member to just tuck their gifts under the tree so they can still reach them, play with them, or admire them, without having to put them away. It will keep it tidier without a lot of effort. The same with stockings: ask your family to put their items back in it but keep it close by or in their bedroom.
• Keep it super simple.
• If something looks messy, deal with it quickly.
• Use multi-surface, multi-purpose products to clean.
• Keep main rooms clutter free and decorate as a minimalist this year.
• Use separate baskets to dump shoes, magazines, toys or even mail into over the holidays so like stuff stays together instead of being spread out.
• Most of all, enjoy this special time of year. Breathe! Relax! And make sure to give yourself the gift of time.
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