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Seasonal Cleaning

How to Win the Holidays, Part One

The holiday season comes but once a year – and with it comes a flurry of entertaining, house cleaning and seemingly endless to-do lists! From making sure that your Christmas tree has the right amount of sparkle to getting the house ready for guests, it can sometimes be overwhelming to get ready for the holiday season on your own.

At Merry Maids®, we’re all about helping you find some peace on earth before major events and annual milestones. When you rely on our holiday cleaning services, our professional team can lighten your load and make it easier for you to enjoy the spirit of the season.

In this special two-part blog series, we’re providing a comprehensive guide to help you “win the holidays” this year, from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Eve. This post will cover how to clean the house for the holidays, plan for festive décor, and prepare for house guests.

Getting Your Décor in Order

Has it been a while since you’ve been through your box of tree ornaments? Do your holiday wreaths still have cobwebs between the leaves? Holiday decorations really upgrade the atmosphere of your space, but there’s no denying that it can take some time to set them up each year.

That’s why we recommend shaking off your old holiday décor boxes in early November and performing a thorough assessment of everything you have, so that you can avoid rushing to decorate later on. Whether you’re hosting a Thanksgiving Day gathering or December festivities, it’s important to have a range of versatile items that can work for both holidays, as well as more specific themed pieces.

Some decorative items that you may want to consider:

  • Thanksgiving pieces: From turkey serving platters to cornucopia centerpieces, find a few quintessential Thanksgiving pieces to help liven up your turkey day celebrations year after year.

  • Winter holiday pieces: This can include everything from Christmas trees and ornaments to Hanukkah menorahs, depending on which winter holidays you and your family prefer to celebrate.

  • Faux plants: Faux plants are a staple of holiday decorations, both because of their longevity and because it’s easy to find natural-looking options. For Yuletide cheer, invest in some silk poinsettias, evergreen sprigs, wreaths, pine cones, and holly garlands. For Thanksgiving bliss, try faux leaves and pumpkin vases filled with autumnal arrangements.

  • Light strings: What holiday is complete without a few twinkling lights to set the scene? Even if you don’t want to light up your home’s exterior, invest in some twinkle lights for banisters and mantels to make your place pop.

  • Table linens: Linens go a long way towards creating the right atmosphere. Although it can be fun to switch out your table runners and cloth napkins for each new holiday, it’s often easier to keep it simple. Select monochromatic table linens in chic neutrals like cream, gold, and black, and you can keep using them into New Year’s Eve.

Cleaning Your Home for the Holidays

Now for the trickiest part: Cleaning and decluttering your home before the holidays begin. It’s a good idea to wait until 5-10 days out for the more comprehensive house cleaning, as you don’t want to repeat the process over and over again. However, there are still some housekeeping tasks you should start early to ensure that your home sparkles all season long.

These early housekeeping tasks include:

  • Checking your special china to make sure it’s in good working condition.

  • Organizing your belongings so that every room is clutter-free.

  • Setting aside time to hang up all your decorations.

  • Ordering extra chairs, party supplies, coat racks, and other event essentials.

  • Scheduling pre- and post-party cleaning services to make life easier during the holidays.

  • Planning out your exterior holiday lighting display.

  • Picking out your holiday music playlists and setting up your home sound system for success.

See below for an easy 5-Day Holiday Cleaning Plan!

Five Days Before: Preparation

Today you’ll just prepare for cleaning. Here’s what you’ll need to do:

  1. Walk through your home to see if there are any major “problem areas.”

  2. Take a full inventory of your cleaning supplies and head to the store for any missing items.

  3. Think about what guests will see most often and make a plan to clean those places. Guests won’t be rummaging through your closets or hanging out in your bedroom, but they will likely see some or all of the following areas: mudrooms and entryways, living room, dining room, bathroom, kitchen, and guest bedrooms.

Four Days Before: Kitchen Cleaning

A full kitchen cleaning takes some time, so it’s best to handle it on the weekend if you can.

  1. Make sure your stovetop and oven are shining and ready for the holiday action.

  2. Wash your kitchen countertops.

  3. Wipe down cupboards, backsplashes, and the refrigerator door.

  4. Go ahead and give special dishes and flatware a full holiday clean.

Three Days Before: Guest Room Cleaning

If you’ll be hosting out-of-towners, today’s the day you’ll make the guest room(s) spotless.

  1. Tidy up guest spaces by dusting and vacuuming.

  2. Launder guest linens, sheets, and towels, as well as any holiday table linens.

  3. Pull the door closed after you’ve completed your holiday clean of the guest rooms. This way the room stays neat — and free of any pet hair — until your visitors arrive.

Two Days Before: Bathrooms & Common Area Cleaning

Time to take care of the bathrooms and start on the common room areas!

  1. Make bathrooms sparkle with a thorough cleaning.

  2. Dust any other rooms guests will see, making sure light fixtures, ceiling fans and blinds are clean.

  3. Check for cobwebs dangling from corners.

One Day Before: Outdoor Cleaning

Save the outdoor portion of your holiday clean for the day before your events.

  1. Sweep up porches, driveways, and sidewalks before making your way inside to mudrooms and entryways.

  2. Vacuum throughout the house.

  3. Clean windows and glass surfaces.

Morning-Of: Light Spot Cleaning

You’ll probably be doing lots of cooking and entertaining today, so you want to keep chores to a minimum.

  • Wipe down your dining room tables and chairs.

  • Do some final spot cleaning before friends and family arrive.

Preparing for House Guests

Whether you’re entertaining house guests through the holidays or just expecting your kids back from college, it’s also important to get your guest rooms ready as early as possible! While they don’t have to be perfectly clean weeks in advance, planning ahead of time will save you a lot of trouble once the festivities begin.

Here’s a handy checklist of items to prepare for hosting guests:

  • Make space. The spare bedroom may a great place to store your sewing machine and random knick-knacks throughout the year. However, it’s important to clear out these items long before your guests arrive so they can have a place to put down their suitcases and belongings. It may also be a good idea to clear out a drawer or cabinet so guests can unpack if desired.

  • Stock up on essentials. Always running low on toilet paper? Need to refill your fancy fragrance diffusers? During the months before the holidays, make a point to purchase extras for all bedroom and bathroom essentials. That way, you’ll be fully stocked when your guests arrive.

  • Find a few holiday candles. Nothing says “cozy” quite like a candle, and a flickering flame can improve the ambiance of your guest space. Be sure to grab some holiday-themed candles and place them around the main areas of your home!

  • Hang up a festive wreath (or two). Guests always appreciate little decorative details, but it can get expensive to buy a festive wreath for every room. Luckily, there are plenty of great DIY wreath instructions out there, like this adorable option from our friends at Hello Glow. Who knew decking the halls could be so easy?

  • Wash your guest towels. As the holiday season draws near, make sure to wash and fold plenty of towels, washcloths, and wraps, placing them in a convenient spot for your guests. For an extra thoughtful touch, add a few drops of lavender or peppermint essential oil to wool dryer balls while doing the laundry.

  • Lay out some blankets. Guests always appreciate a warm and cozy atmosphere. By layering some beautiful winter blankets and throws on the guest bed, you’ll save them the trip to ask you for more covers.

  • Create a device charging & WiFi station. Everyone appreciates having the WiFi password and a working plug as soon as possible. Make it easy for your guests to find these items and they’ll thank you for it.

Need help with the post-holiday cleanup? Read Part Two of this series to learn how to deal with the holiday aftermath.