By Julie Winsel

The holiday season is an exciting time, no longer contained to just Thanksgiving and Christmas day. There may be Friends-giving, Christmas parties, white elephant gift exchanges, nights in with your friends, hosting Hanukkah events, or even just squeezing in dinners with your immediate family where you are all actually sitting at the table. November through January 1 (can’t forget New Year’s Eve!) is busy, and it’s easy to feel like your house never has enough time to heal between get-togethers.

For your own sanity, we have some recommendations for readying your home for the holidays and keeping yourself, your family, and your house sane through the craziness.

  1. Do one deep clean. We still have about a week before Thanksgiving. This weekend, spend some time doing a thorough deep cleaning. Scrub baseboards, move furniture to vacuum those hard-to-reach places you’ve been avoiding, take a sponge to the shower tiles, and really get down and dirty, cleaning supplies in your gloved hand. Getting the detail work done now will allow you to just spit shine with wipes and do a quick sweep with the vacuum before each occasion.

  1. Limit clutter between events. As part of your deep clean, make sure all your day-to-day stuff has an appropriate home. I’m not saying you need to completely reorganize your whole life, but making sure shoes end up in the closet, mail has a place to go (trash, file, or deal with!), and keep horizontal spaces from becoming catch-alls will keep you from having to deal with it all at once. Being consistent with putting things away immediately now may also become a habit that you can carry with you into the new year.
  2. Keep up your general cleaning routine. Do you always clean your toilets every other Saturday? Is laundry always done Tuesday evenings? Do you mop your kitchen once a month? Still keep those routines. Letting normal things slide will quickly leave you feeling lost and in a whirlwind. Stick to your routines (and not just cleaning routines) as much as you can through the next month and a half so you feel like you have at least one anchor point.
  3. Have your holiday-ware readily available. Whether you’re using grandma’s china and silver or paper plates and plastic silverware, it’s important that you have it readily available and ready to go. Having to climb on a step stool to reach your special dishes or realizing you don’t have enough paper dessert plates as guests are ringing your doorbell adds unnecessary stress. Take inventory of what you have now and place it an easily accessed spot. If a trip to Cash and Carry is in order to stock up on disposables, do so now.
  4. Know what’s coming up. Schedule everything, including when you’re going to run errands, clean, do your Christmas shopping, or wrap gifts. Knowing what’s coming up and what needs to be done to prepare can help you stay on track. I recommend using an online calendar that can be synced across devices and users in case things change. Share the calendar with your partner, your parents, your housemates, or anyone else who needs to know.
  5. Know who’s coming. Not only is knowing the number of people coming important, but who is coming can change things. Are kiddos attending? Is this an adult-only event? Couples? Singles? Be the cool host and have something for everyone. And also make sure your home is safe for everyone. If young kids are coming, ask their parents if there’s anything you should know or prepare for.
  6. Keep the basics on hand. People are people and that means they may need things while they’re at your house. Keep your bathroom fully stocked with all essentials (toilet paper, tampons, soap, air freshener, etc.) as well as in other common areas of the house. Make sure you have paper towels on hand for spills, tissues, face wipes, and other things to make your guests feel comfortable without having to have uncomfortable conversations.

Even when you’re busy and people are continually coming and going, your house is your sanctuary. Keep it from becoming a place of chaos by setting it up right for the holidays.