The busiest time of the year can be tamed, to make way for fun
The holidays should be anticipated with eagerness, not anxiety. Unfortunately for some of us—and particularly those of us planning to host during this season—we leave organizing to the last minute, and panic ensues. One solution: make a week-by-week to-do list now and actually abide by it. After all, a de-cluttered, tidy home is the perfect setting for the happiest (and calmest) of holidays.
3 weeks to go
- Take into account your family traditions and plan everything you’ll need for them now. Do you share a cookie exchange with friends? Do family members draw names for gift giving? Do the children in your family prepare a skit or do adults tell family stories? Arrange whatever you need now to make sure these are honored and passed on, and remind everyone involved of the importance of his or her participation. A checklist will make it easy to see what’s left for you or others to do. Sadly, it is traditions that can all too easily slip through the cracks if you’re distracted by the holiday frenzy.
- If you haven’t already, now is the time to buy (or make) invitations and address them, prepare the menus, and decide on a theme, if applicable, for the decorations.
- Take a holistic approach to your holiday errands: attempt to collect all of your supplies, everything from holiday cards and wrapping paper to groceries and cleaning supplies. Even one less trip to the mall means valuable time is saved.
- You may not be motivated to write out your holiday cards but time is ticking. Spend an evening this week (while watching TV, perhaps) addressing the envelopes, pasting on return address labels, and adding stamps. Encourage your children to create their own cards to send to grandparents, cousins and friends.
2 weeks to go
- Now is a great time to clear out the clutter in your extra bedroom, since you’ll likely need it for out-of-towners or sleepovers. Remove any remaining out-of-season clothing from the closets and drawers to leave space for your guests' things. Put away unfinished projects. Finally, add some of the homey touches that convert a spare room into a cozy guestroom: plush pillows, a good reading lamp, fun reading material and an extra blanket. You’ll be happy this is squared away, especially if guests show up unexpectedly early.
- Time to get the decorative outdoor lights set up. Be sure to test the lights before you put them up and after to be sure they’re ready to go.
- In the kitchen, it’s time to prepare cookie dough, yummy soups, cookies, bars, or whole dinners. You won’t (or shouldn’t) eat them all now, but store them away in the freezer. You'll be ready in a jiffy when you need to put on a quick meal or provide goodies for a party.
- The high traffic areas: the living room, front hall, closets and guest bedrooms should be ready for company by now. A simple and easy walk around these rooms with a large Roughneck container is a great way to start, gathering up all the clutter and misplaced items into the bin. Tuck these items out of sight in the garage or basement through the holiday season, preferably off the ground on shelving.
1 week to go
- With the majority of clutter gone, you can now roll up your sleeves for a comprehensive clean up. Get out your mop, broom, vacuum and duster, and center your attention on those high-traffic areas—the kitchen, main bathroom, dining room, living room and front hall. Any last minute clutter can also be stored in a container stored in medium Roughneck containers in the garage or basement.
- If you have any extra time (or energy), try to sort and re-organize kitchen drawers, pantries and closet space. Pick up a Silverware Caddy to keep your extra holiday silverware organized and on hand.
With the house in order in time for the season crunch you’ll be free to bake and cook (even more) and actually enjoy your time with family and friends.