Holiday-ify your home in ten easy steps

November 11, 2014


Chris Hoaglund
Zenith City Weekly

It takes a little time and elbow grease to get your home in tip-top shape for holiday entertaining, but if you have a good game plan and a simple checklist, who knows? You might want to keep it that way.

Clean up outdoors. Remove spent planters, garbage/recycling containers, and outdoor furnishings. If you don’t have room in your garage, make room on a patio or deck. Be sure to cover it to protect it from the elements. Keep a couple planters to adorn your front door. Fill them with spruce tips and a strand of white lights to brighten up a dark entryway. A fresh evergreen wreath smells great and puts your guests in a holiday mood.

Evaluate your entryway. Is there ample space to remove shoes or boots? Are there mismatched rugs or do you need a rug to place wet shoes on? Is there a place to hang coats and enough empty hangers for guests? Are there decorations that might get in the way? Is there a mirror for guests to check their appearance?  

Focus on the kitchen, living room, bathroom, and dining room. Your guests will mostly spend time in these main areas. No one’s going to set foot in the basement bedroom, so if you are pressed for time, just tidy it up and close the door. Your guests will go where you lead them. Leave lights on in the rooms you would like them to visit.

The kitchen is the heart of your home. Whether you are cooking or not, take time to clean the oven, refrigerator (inside and the top), and floor. Wipe down cupboards, doors, and sinks. Run some lemon slices through the garbage disposal for a fresh scent. Don’t forget to have plenty of clean towels and napkins available. Make sure you have an area set up out of the way of the cook, so guests can help themselves to a beverage or snack.  

Give the bathroom a thorough cleaning. Even the shower. Make sure the toilet is clean and in working condition. Scrubbing Bubbles makes a dissolving gel that sticks to the inside of the bowl and helps keep it clean. It eliminates the need for air freshener or candles in the bathroom. Dust off the tops of the doors and light fixtures, and make sure the floor and mirrors are spotless. Set out clean towels and make sure there are tissues and an extra roll of toilet paper available.

Give your rooms ambiance. Make sure there is low but ample lighting. Soft music in the background is a nice touch. If there is a sporting event that day, a separate room with a TV allows die-hard fans to watch without disturbing the rest of the guests. Leave a lamp lit and the TV on, but turn the sound off. That way, they’ll know if they would like to watch, they are welcome.

Clear away clutter. That means kids’ toys, schoolwork, and personal belongings. Dust shelves, furniture, and wall frames. Eliminate any cobwebs. Clean floors thoroughly. Clear off tables and set out coasters. Remove old magazines or papers, but consider displaying a coffee table book as a conversation starter.

Plan enough seating. I often bring out my extra dining chairs or add a couple wicker chairs in the living room or dining area. Ottomans make good seating too. Push them to the side so people know they are allowed to sit there. Arrange the furniture so it facilitates conversation and makes room for foot traffic.

Don’t burn the house down. Candlelight is a nice touch, but unattended candles are a fire hazard. I had wall sconces with green candles in them one year. No one noticed that as the tapers burned low, there was wax dripping all over the carpet. Invest in some LED candles. They come in all sizes and shapes. You can place them around the house and not worry that children or pets (or adults) might knock them over.

Accessorize for the season. A holiday centerpiece, fresh flowers, or seasonal décor will get people in the mood. Whether it’s a dozen fall gourds strategically placed throughout the house with a few fall leaves, or fresh cut spruce and a couple grocery store bouquets in small vases, little touches like these do not go unnoticed.

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