Cleaning tips for the harried holiday host and hostess

I think we all have the best intentions when it comes to the state of our home when we are entertaining. Most people hosting a dinner or party envision a sparkling house from top to bottom but the reality is that time is precious, especially during the holidays. Most of us flat out run out of time to get our home in the shape we would like. But….not to panic, here are some tips to make your house presentable for holiday entertaining, and your guests will be none the wiser:-)!

Focus on tidying up the rooms where your guests will be and ignore the others. This means primarily your living area, dining room (if you are having a sitdown dinner), and bathroom. You can quickly pick up, dust and vacuum the living and dining rooms. If you have little kids, move all of your toys to a room that will be unseen – a bedroom, even the basement. Use laundry baskets to easily haul all of them items.

To clean the bathroom, do a quick cleaning of the sink, toilet and floor. Make sure there are fresh towels and soap and that the garbage is emptied. It’s also a good idea to stock the bathroom with extra tissues and toilet paper.

Skip the kitchen unless you will be eating there. I know most guests always end up in the kitchen, but skip the serious cleaning like floors – just keep it somewhat tidy because it will be a mess later when you do party clean up after the guests have left.

Close the doors and turn off the lights to any rooms into which you do not want your guests to venture. This means messy kids’ bedrooms (hopefully guests won’t wander upstairs but you never know…) or downstairs offices covered with bills and paperwork.

Add a few special touches to your house to encourage guests to ignore any imperfections. I always keep my lights dim and use lots of candles and fresh flowers – even in the bathroom – when we have a party. Everything looks better with mood lighting – including your home!

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Rachael Ray