Heartwarming Hosting: Tidying Your Home in a Hurry for the Holidays
During the holidays, you want to invite friends and family over to share laughter and fun in your home--but you may also struggle to find time to fix up the house and keep everything looking neat and tidy for your guests. I love hosting guests, especially during the holidays, but I also know how easy it is to start stressing about their presence. These are some of the things I've discovered that can help decrease those stress levels and make having guests fun instead of stressful.
- Focus on What They'll See First
Where do guests typically enter your home? What are the first things they'll set eyes on? When that front area is clean, you'll find that guests are more likely to perceive your home as being clean, even if there's clutter in other locations. Take a minute to shake out the welcome mat, dust the entryway, and sweep up the floors. Pay a little extra attention to sofa and chair legs, where dust is more likely to gather. In just a few minutes, you can quickly create a better first impression of your home, which will make your guests feel more welcome from the moment they walk through the door.
- Brighten Things Up
An open, bright home will immediately look inviting to your guests, letting them know that you're eager to welcome them. That first impression matters! During the holidays, flip the tree lights on and straighten a few decorations. Open up the curtains at any time of the year to let in some natural light. This brilliance will make the entire house look lighter and brighter. As the evening wears on, make sure you turn on lights to keep visibility high and add a cozy glow to the whole room.
- Beautify the Bathroom
Ah, the bathroom. If you have kids, this can quickly become one of the messiest rooms of the house as they leave toothpaste in the sink, spread towels across the floor, and forget to pick up their clothes. Take a few minutes to wipe down the sink and counter. Put out colorful guest towels to add a pop of color and warmth. Straighten the bath mat, close the shower curtain, and even try placing a flower from the garden in a vase on the vanity. When the bathroom is clean, it makes the entire house feel a little cleaner and helps your guests to feel more welcome in your home.
- Confine the Mess
If you know that you're about to have company, but your home just isn't ready, look for ways to confine the mess to a smaller area of the home. My mother used the laundry room when I was growing up. It was a small room tucked off in the corner that guests were unlikely to visit, which made it the perfect place for storing clutter throughout the home that would have taken ages to put up otherwise. You may not have a laundry room, but you probably do have a master bedroom: just close the door, and you'll be better able to keep guests from seeing the mess. Tucking items in the garage is also a highly effective tactic.
- Load that Dishwasher
If you have a quiet dishwasher, there's no reason it can't keep running while you have guests in the house. Not only does this simple strategy ensure that the counters look cleaner, it means that you don't have to hand wash the dishes and put them away--just get them in the dishwasher and get it running. While you're at it, wipe down the kitchen counters. If you've been on a cooking frenzy while waiting for your guests and don't have time to get all of the dishes clean, they can be stored in the oven temporarily. Just make sure that it's cool before you start, and don't forget and turn it on!
- Add a Fresh Smell
It's amazing how our senses all work together to create our perceptions. Your sense of smell, for example, can help convince you that the home is clean, even if it's looking a little dusty around the corners. Add a fresh citrus scent by sprinkling essential oils in your air return vents--or use a diffuser to spread the scent throughout a specific room. If you want a more homey, inviting scent, try sprinkling a little vanilla in the oven and turning it on for a few minutes (preferably before you store your dirty dishes in it). Even if you've been cooking, the scent of vanilla can help welcome guests and make them feel right at home. Conversely, if you've been cooking all day and the smell in the house is getting a little heavy, try opening a few windows or pushing open the door for a little while. This will help air out the house and make sure that your guests get a great first impression.
- Have a System
Are you running around in a frenzy because you know guests are coming and you just aren't ready? Start with a system. Sweep through and pick up clutter in the rooms that everyone will see first. (Remember, rooms that they won't see aren't important right now--you can save those for after your guests are gone!) Then, clean from top to bottom, so that you're knocking dirt and debris down to the floor before you've cleaned it, not after. Work from left to right or work counterclockwise through each room so that you can be sure you've hit all the important places. With a system in place, it's easier to see where you've been and what you still have to do, too.
I love having company, whether it's at the holidays or any other time of year. Being surrounded by friends and loved ones is one of my favorite ways to spend an evening. It doesn't take much, however, for "fun" to transform into "stress." With these hacks, it's easier to get the house tidied up and make it look great for company, all without having to stress out about cleaning every little detail.