Getting organized - It is possible!
If you’re feeling that it’s impossible to get your home ready for holiday houseguests. Good news: You can do it!
A Tip: Fix yourself a cup of hot cocoa, start a fire in the hearth and get comfortable in your favorite chair. Then make a list and check it twice; it should include everything you need to do so your home makes a good impression on your houseguests and makes them feel comfortable during their stay. Then enlist the help of your family and make appointments with any service pros you’ll need to help you finish the chores on time.
Pre-Holiday Honey-Do List:
- Have the furnace inspected. Chances are, you’ll have the heat on while company’s here, at least overnight. You’ll rest easier knowing a heating and air conditioning technician has given your system a once-over and cleared it—or repaired it—so it won’t leave your guests in the cold.
- Sweep the chimney. It’s a messy, time-consuming job, so you might want to hire a professional chimney sweep. Choose one who can do both a cleaning and an inspection. An inspector will look for cracks in the masonry, damaged dampers, worn-out chimney caps and other problems, in addition to removing what you can’t see: the creosote, soot, ashes, dust, leaves and even birds that are stuck in the flue and chimney.
- Hang your stockings by the chimney with care—a lot of it. Hanging stockings can damage your mantel and pose a fire hazard. Use the smallest hook or nail you can find so the hole you pierce into the mantel will be nearly invisible when you remove the nail after the holidays. Move holiday stockings away from the mantel before lighting a fire.
- Gussie up the guest room. If it’s been doubling as a sewing room, a storage space or a home office since last time grandma came to visit, get in there and clean it out. Move your personal items to another room so you won’t have to bother your guests to retrieve them during their stay. Make room in the closet for company to hang clothes. Launder the bedspread, and place a candy cane on each pillow. And if your guests have stayed with you over past Christmases, frame a holiday photo from their last visit and display it in their room.
- Create “guest space” in the guest bathroom. Make your guests feel especially welcome by designating a bathroom for them that the rest of the family won’t use during their stay. This will allow them to unpack toiletries and hang wet towels without having to tote them back and forth from the bathroom to the bedroom. Add a hook to the inside of the bathroom door for hanging towels and robes, and clear a shelf—or add one—near the sink where company can place razors, makeup and brushes.
- Really clean your house. Start in the guest room and work your way through common areas like the kitchen, dining room and TV room that your company will visit during their stay. Do more than knock the dust around. Really look for areas that need cleaning. Make your toilets sparkle, scrub your countertops, scour the grout from floor and backsplash tiles, and clear bathroom drains. Haul out your step ladder and search for dust in all the places you usually ignore: on top of ceiling-fan blades, plate racks, kitchen cabinets and hanging picture frames. Vacuum the dust from exhaust fans. Sweep under the guest room bed.
- Install carbon monoxide detectors.If you heat your home with a gas furnace or use other gas appliances at home, install carbon monoxide detectors near every bedroom—including the guest room. If you already have them, replace the batteries—you need fresh ones twice a year. Test your home’s fire alarms while you’re at it—or install them if you don’t have them--and change those batteries, too, if they’re not fresh.
- Paint your wood front door. Your front door makes your home’s first impression; make it a good one by maintaining the finish, which can chip, peel and flake from the beating it takes from the sun. If your front door isn’t wood, clean it—along with the sidelights and the porch, from floor to ceiling, before company rings your doorbell.
- Make those small repairs you’ve been putting off. You might be used to the drip-drip-drip of a slow-leaking faucet that’s been on the fritz for months, but the sound can drive visitors crazy, especially if they can hear it while they’re trying to sleep. Do a sweep of the house and fix leaky faucets, clogged drains, cracked windows, creaky door hinges and loose doorknobs. Little problems play a big role in a bad impression.
- Decorate the house and tree before company arrives so you can hide away storage boxes, sweep away stray pine needles and throw away the mess and debris that decorating can create. Or have your guests participate in the decorating after they arrive. That way, you’ll have a few extra helping hands during the busy last days before Christmas, and you’ll start a new holiday tradition that your company will look forward when they visit year after year.