Tis the season to be jolly…fa la la – oh, who are we kidding? It’s hard to be in a festive mood when all you can think about is all the scrubbing and washing, the vacuuming and mopping, the dusting and polishing-all the chores you have to do before your holiday guests arrive.

This year, give yourself the gift of sanity. Don’t try to clean every square inch of your home from top to bottom. And don’t obsess about meticulously cleaning areas your guests won’t even see.

Prioritize the Most Important Chores

Common areas are your top priority:
– Front entrance to your home
– Living room
– Dining room
– Den
– Kitchen
– Bathroom/s your guests will use
– Guest bedroom

Give your Children Chores to Do

Even the youngest children can pick up their toys, put their dirty clothes in the hamper and bring cups and plates to the kitchen. Parents sometimes reward their children for being cheerful holiday helpers with special gifts under the tree.

Holiday Cleaning Action Plan

1. De-clutter – Scoop up everything that doesn’t belong in each room. Shoes, clothing, books, magazines, toys, video games, board games-return them to their rightful owners’ bedrooms. Then you or your kids can put them away when they’re cleaning their rooms. Now that the clutter is out of the way, cleaning will be much easier.

2. Clean the bathroom – This is the bathroom your guests will use, so take the time to clean it more meticulously than your own bathroom. Use your favorite cleaning products to make the shower, tub, vanity and toilet sparkle. Be sure to put out guest towels and a new bottle of hand soap.

3. Clean the kitchen – Even though this is a common area, you don’t need to go crazy cleaning your oven or the inside of your refrigerator unless they are grimy and long overdue for a good cleaning. Uncluttered countertops, shiny appliance surfaces and no dirty dishes in the sink all set the right mood, even if your cabinets are cluttered and disorganized inside.

4. Clean the guest bedroom – Clean this bedroom more carefully than you would your own. You want your guests to feel special, as if they were staying at a cozy B&B inn. Consider the added touch of holiday candles and fresh flowers in their bedroom just to emphasize how happy you are to have them in your home.

5. Clean the living room/dining room –Start from the top and work your way down. Dust particles always float down. Dust and polish shelves and furniture first. Wipe your television screen (It’s amazing how fast dust accumulates there!) Fluff up cushions and throw pillows. Wash your washable throw blankets, too. Vacuum carpeting and dust mop your hardwood floors. Now’s the time to remove any carpet stains that spoil the beauty of your clean home.

6. Make room in your coat closet for your guests’ coats – If your coat closet is crammed, put your extra coats, boots, gloves, scarves and hats in bedroom closets so your guests have plenty of room.

7. Set out holiday candles – Light them a couple of hours before your guests arrive to give the candles time to enhance your home with a pleasant fragrance.

8. Clean and de-clutter the front porch/entrance – You know what they say about first impressions. Happy Holidays, everyone!

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