Get Your Home Ready for Holiday Guests


Each year when I turn my calendar page to November, I think about my grandmother. This was her season and hosting was her sport. For a week, she and my grandfather housed and fed twenty-six of us in their 1,500 square foot, one bathroom home. Yes, it was chaotic but, it was also magical and my heart still fills with warmth when I think about it.

But how, right? Grandma was nothing if not planner and though she never shared her exact formula, she let me in on most of her secrets – secrets I now use in my planning and work with busy moms.

Here are five of my (Grandma’s!) best tips to get your house ready for holiday guests:

  • Prioritize. This is not the time for a Marie Kondo level purge. The holidays are all about gathering and entertaining so, prioritizing getting your kitchen, entryway, and other guest spaces in order is best.
  • Make a list. A holiday cleaning checklist will help you work smarter, not harder. Pick 3-5 top tasks to accomplish in each room. Get specific! Instead of writing: (1) Clean the kitchen write: (1) Remove papers, toys, food, and excess appliances from the kitchen counters (2) Discard expired foods from the refrigerator and pantry (3) Move off season items like patio dinnerware, picnic baskets, and barbecue tools to a lidded bin to make space for special platters and dishes.
    • Bonus tip: Focus your efforts on surface clutter first as this will have the most impact on how the space looks and feels (i.e., console table in the entryway, kitchen counters, coffee and side tables, guest bathroom vanity, and nightstands and dresser in the guest bedroom). Toss trash and anything with a layer of dust on it (its clearly not being used). Sort through the paper piles; recycle expired coupons, keep only the three most recent issues of magazines, and shred personal documents you dont need. Put items you no longer love or need in a donation box. Remove any items that dont belong in the space (e.g., your kidsscience project thats been sitting on the kitchen counter for two months). Clear surfaces create a sense of calm and balance and make for a more open, inviting space for guests.
  • Schedule. With your checklist in hand, schedule the tasks in your calendar, one room at a time. Treat the task like an appointment or meeting. THIS is the difference between a list and a to-do list.
  • Delegate. Once you see what you reasonably have time for, it’s easier to delegate. Get the kids involved! They can help with tasks like tossing expired foods, putting away off season items, and helping stock the bathrooms with extra toilet paper, tissues, and soap.
  • Test run. The best way to know what a room needs is to use it. Thus, once youve completed your checklist, put yourself in your guestsshoes as you do a final walkthrough of your spaces. Do all the lights work? Does the toilet flush easily? Is there enough soap in the dispenser? Is the guest bed comfortable when you lay on it? Does it feel good to be in the space?

If you need direction or inspiration on what to include on your checklist, read below!

  • Entryway
    Making sure your guests have a space for their coats, shoes, and bags goes a long way to making a great first impression. Create space in your coat closet by removing off season and outgrown coats and accessories. Add extra, sturdy hangers (or a coat rack) and a boot tray or two.
  • Bathroom(s)
    Stock the bathrooms with extra toilet paper, tissues, soap, and matches.
  • Living Spaces
    As stated above, make sure your flat surfaces (kitchen counters, coffee table, and side tables) are clutter-free. Little details like fresh flowers, a bowl of seasonal fruit, and a tray to corral drink or coffee items not only add to the look and feel of your home but communicate that you put time and thought into preparing for your guests even if you didnt purge all the clutter or deep clean from top to bottom.
  • Guest Room/Bathroom
    Make sure your guests have enough space for their items i.e., hanging space and extra hangers in the closet, one or two empty dresser drawers, a stool or bench for their luggage, and a clear countertop to put their toiletries on. Take into account the temperature of your guest room. Add an extra blanket to the foot of the bed and a small fan to a nightstand or dresser. Create a guest basket with thoughtful amenities like toothbrushes, toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, moisturizer, disposable razors, and feminine products. This is a great way to use your extra travel size items! Lidded glass canisters with q-tips and cotton balls and an extra hair dryer are always a nice touch. Make sure each guest has at least two clean towels, a hand towel and a wash cloth. I love adding a framed chalkboard with a welcome message, the WiFi network and password, and TV and coffee pot instructions.


Remember, better is good! You don’t need to reach Martha Stewart level perfection for you and your guests to enjoy each other and make memorable moments.

Happy hosting!


Written by: Catherine Gibel, Professional Organizer
Less is More Organizing Services Naperville

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