Quick Holiday Cleaning Tips for the Non-Obsessive

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quick holiday cleaningThe holidays are upon us and guests will soon arrive. You already decorated and your house looks great, but you just didn’t have time to do the deep cleaning you had hoped to achieve before your barrage of guests show up. Your cousins are staying over for the weekend and your college kids are bunking together to accommodate them. Your kids already know you are sometimes a slacker and marvel at the amount of household stuff, art supplies and refuse you were able to stuff in the craft room closet. Yay you! They love you anyway, so no worries there. Lock the door and no one will open it or get injured in the toppling mess when the curious cat tries to sneak a peek into your hidden spaces (i.e. Aunt Sara).

Aunt Sara is going to scrutinize the heck out of your housekeeping habits, but she would do that regardless of the state of sterility you achieve in your kitchen and bath (some people are just like that). So how should you prioritize? The clock is ticking and you still have thirty gifts to wrap, shopping to do, and then the food prep. Plus you’re working… This is the part where you have to prioritize and figure out what matters most to you on the holidays. What and who—because really, there are only a few days left and a few hours to accomplish everything you need to do.

Now it’s time for you get out a piece of paper, have a cup of calming tea (lavender or chamomile), and reminisce about your favorite holidays. Which ones stand out in your mind as more successful, more enjoyable, more joyous, more relaxed, or simply had more flow? Jot down your thoughts in a “best holidays” column, then make short lists of what it was that made it best. Was it the food? Having your family together? The synergy of your guests? The gifts? The reactions of the gift recipients? The matching candy-striped toe socks worn by your entire clan? The excellent wine? Or maybe the love you shared?

So be honest with yourself, did “cleanest house in the hood” come up anywhere near the top of your list? Well, if it did, you know what you have to do. You will need to prioritize the most important cleaning tasks that you can possibly accomplish in the limited amount of time you have. You could pare down Good Housekeeping’s 7-day Plan and focus on the most visible rooms. House Logic has a quick-and-dirty (or clean) checklist of the most vital cleaning tasks for a guest-worthy home. HGTV has a plan for cleaning your house in 45 minutes or less (my favorite). Of course, this assumes you have kept up on your maintenance to a great degree. Regardless of how “deep” your cleaning goes, you need to assess your time, define your tasks, and set limits for yourself. And most importantly, don’t forget to make room for joy in your holidays. Don’t hesitate to enlist your partner and kids as well. Work in a reward after cleaning (family pizza party) and you’re well on your way to holiday fun.

For those of you who discovered cleaning towards the bottom of your “discovery” list, the HGTV article is probably the one for you. Also, for overall holiday organizing, you can’t beat this Budget Dumpster article with five smart holiday organizing tips. And if you want to pour yourself another tea as you refine your holiday cleaning and organizing plan, head on over to the Organizing Maven’s site and check out her free Less Stress – More Joy Guide to help you get the most out of your holidays.

Also, consider this: your kitchen, bath and entryway are probably going to be the most scrutinized by others (and the dining area). So those might be your priority rooms for concentrated cleaning.

I fully intended to write you a cleaning guide, but as I wrote this and assessed my own work and other priorities, I realized that lots of people already did it for me (no need to replicate their ideas)! So you don’t really need me after all. Plus, Aunt Sara got pushed to the bottom of my list, so I’m steeping another cup of tea and having a lovely evening as I add Zentangles to my incredible short list of Christmas must-do’s. Enjoy your reading and happy holidays!

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