Six days to Christmas. If you’re having company for the holiday, you’re probably thinking about all the cleaning you need to do to make your home presentable. And that’s probably just adding more stress to your already stressed life. The key to getting everything presentable is accepting that no one expects your home to look like a showplace except for one or two nasty relatives who are going to complain about something no matter what you do. My suggestion is don’t invite them, but if you really, really have to, treat yourself to a glass of wine before they arrive, then ignore them.
The first thing you need to do is accept that you don’t have to clean every room from top to bottom. Close the doors of the rooms where you won’t be entertaining. That means you don’t have to fret about piles of laundry or unmade beds. Entertain your guests in your living room, dining room, family room/den, and kitchen. Clean the powder room for their use. If you have a finished basement, send the kids down there to play. They’re not going to care if the floor is covered with toys. Even if you’ve straightened up the room, it won’t stay straightened up for long, so why waste time and energy?
If you’ve got a sink full of dirty dishes, stick them in the dishwasher, and run the dishwasher while you’re tackling the other rooms.
For the rooms where you’ll be entertaining, do a clutter sweep. Dump the stuff that has accumulated on all horizontal surfaces and the floors into laundry baskets. Then stick the baskets in a closet, storage area, or your garage.
Next, dust the furniture and vacuum the carpets. Voila! You’re finished with everything except the kitchen and bathroom, and it probably took no more than 15 or 20 minutes.
For the kitchen, clear off your countertops and kitchen table. Items that can be stored in cabinets, drawers, and the pantry should be put away. Wipe down the countertops and table. Clean the stovetop. Sweep, then wash the floor. Take out the trash. You don’t need to do anything beyond that. Remember, you’re serving Christmas dinner. The kitchen is just going to get messy and dirty again. What you’re really striving for here is to have clean, uncluttered prep and staging areas.
Finally, clean your powder room or whichever bathroom you designate for guests. This means cleaning the toilet, sink, and floor. Make sure the towels are fresh and the sink area is free of personal grooming items other than hand soap. If this is your one and only bathroom, remove tub toys and other personal family items you normally leave out but make sure you have a box of tissues and extra rolls of toilet paper within easy reach. If you keep a basket of magazines in your bathroom, remove them. You don’t want guests lingering or taking refuge to get away from those nasty relatives.