Brace yourself – the holiday season is about to start! Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, New Year’s Eve, family parties, neighborhood parties, gangs of children coming over to make cookies or watch movies. Whatever your type of entertaining, let’s get you in good shape.
A good sense of organization is all about being prepared so you can relax and enjoy your guests. So what does it take to do that? Some of us plan weeks ahead of time and some others do it gracefully with just a little prep time.
What’s expected? What can you do on the fly? Do people drop by frequently or will you mostly have overnight guests, or both?
Here are some organizing tips to entertaining stress free for the upcoming holiday season. Stand back and survey your home. Which areas need the most improvement before guests arrive? They are usually the entryway, kitchen and bathroom.
The entryway makes the most important impression. Whether you have a grand, formal foyer or greet guests through your kitchen entrance, this is the best place to start. And, if you are pressed for time, the only one that matters. Start with de-cluttering the coat closet (or if you don’t have one in this area, plan out where you will put guests’ coats, hats, etc). Pull everything out of the closet. Put off-season jackets in another closet. Throw away worn-out things, donate too-small things, relocate things to where they belong. Vacuum the closet. Take a look at the space and evaluate your needs. I have one set of shelves on the floor for shoes; another set of shelves in the built-in closet shelf for hats, scarves, etc. I keep seldom-used winter accessories on a top shelf. Do you need more hangers, or would a hanging set of pockets or set of hooks on the inside of the door help for gloves, a purse, or hats? Are there any furniture in the entryway such as a table, sets of drawers or other for keys, wallet, etc? The entryway should be neat but still allow for coats to be stored and last minute – out the door things to be retrieved. Lastly, if you are having less formal guests (children), some are accustomed to taking off their shoes at the door. Keep a washable mat here for that.
If the entryway is finished and looking good then you can move on to another area – the kitchen. I’m not talking about an intense, all day endeavor here. I’m talking about purging a few cabinets to make life a little easier during the holidays. We can do a full kitchen organization some snowy day in February. Go through your spice cabinet, canned goods, baking products and throw out everything that has expired or is seeping out onto the shelf. Do the same to your refrigerator and freezer. The last thing you want is for Aunt Shirley to help herself to 2-year old horseradish for her Bloody Mary.
Make a list of the basics you need to buy – cinnamon, cake flour, etc. As you are moving through the cabinets also make a list of things that need to come out of storage such as holiday kitchen towels or Sterno buffet sets. Take a visual of the dish and glass cabinets. Is there anything glaring in there that can be thrown out while you are at it, like the plastic cups from that cruise in 2009? This is a great chance to get rid of any old items that have not been used in a long time.
Next, move on to the bathroom that guests will use. Whether you have a powder room or guests will use the family bathroom, take a look at the space. Locate the guest towels and make sure they are in good condition. Have liquid hand soap and air freshener available. Make sure the bathroom door can lock! I have a large closet in my powder room that I will clean out before the holidays so that I can store excess beverages and snacks in there, as well as the regular stash of paper and cleaning products. Right before guests arrive, do a quick wipe down of porcelain surfaces in the powder room.
Tip 1: Pick 2 or 3 crucial areas to de-clutter and organize before guests arrive.
Tip 2: Just do a quick job to avoid overwhelming yourself; you can do a more thorough cleaning in the winter.
Tip 3: Things won’t stay perfectly organized, so give yourself a break. Enjoy the holidays and enjoy quality time with friends and family, and get back on track in January.