It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Or, so they say. And, it is. Truly, I believe that. It’s just a little stressful at times. The shopping is one thing. I enjoy that. As well as the parties and ornament exchanges if they’re at restaurants or other people’s houses. It’s just the entertaining at home that stresses me out. And, the potential for holiday visitors.

Granted, I’m not in a situation this year where I’ll be hosting a lot of events. My new house is small. The kitchen is getting renovated. The kids are with their dad for Thanksgiving, and Christmas with my family is in Chicago this year. So, this may not be my busiest of holiday seasons, but I’ve been there. I’ve done that. I can relate.

Maybe this is your year. You get to host the extended family for turkey dinner. Your husband suggested you have a few ‘work friends’ over for a holiday get together. And, you’re flying out of town to spend the first night of Hanukkah at your in-laws. The panic attack is already setting in.

I guarantee that you are not alone. This Chris Fleming video, Company is Coming, will prove that to you. (Watch if you want to have a laugh!) So how can you make it a little bit easier on yourself? Don’t worry. It’s early yet. You have time. But, let’s get started before the guests start knocking on your door.

What You Can Do Right Away

First off, arrange for a deep cleaning (try Immaculate Clean, if you’re in Central MD). Or, you can plan to do this yourself. However, you plan to get it done, just get it done. It’s a great way to clear everything out of the way and start fresh. It will get you motivated to start doing more. Don’t forget about washing all the extra sheets and towels, too, so those things are ready when company arrives. (Next week we’ll talk about making sure the kitchen is ready, in Are There Too Many Cooks in the Kitchen?)

Next, get rid of all the junk you’ve been dumping in the guest rooms and extra bathrooms or closets. You’re going to want to use these spaces when family and/or friends come to stay. Don’t wait until they’re on their way.

You can also pick up some items at the store that you will want to have on hand for guests. Think of toiletries, extra towels, mints or candies to put in their rooms, and other snacks or drinks that can be stored for a while. Extra room deodorizers, candles, and a few books or magazines are also nice to have on hand.

As Each Holiday or Get-Together Approaches

Spend 30 minutes or so each day just picking up the house, sweeping, vacuuming, etc. Just the light stuff. Enough to keep it from getting messy. This will prevent you from having to go back to the deep cleaning. Or, even better, treat yourself this holiday season to weekly professional cleaning. It will relieve some stress.

Get out the decorations. Everyone loves coming to a home decked out for the holiday. It’s warm and inviting, and makes people feel welcome. But, there’s no need to go overboard. We’re not all Martha Stewart. Not everything has to be homemade, or cost a fortune. Mums for Thanksgiving, poinsettias at Christmas time, a few holiday candles and wreathes. These things are festive but not overwhelming. And, you won’t have to worry about storing them all when the holiday is over.


Make your shopping list, and put up a schedule for when you can start making things ahead of time.

Don’t forget to spend a little time on yourself, too. Pamper yourself a bit with a mani/pedi. Get your hair cut and highlighted. Go crazy and get a massage or facial.

Buy a few new holiday outfits. It will all help you to feel better when the guests arrive.

The Day Of

The idea is to have enough done ahead of time that you’re not totally stressed the day everyone is coming over. Get a good night’s sleep (if you can), and get up early (of course, that’s 9:00 in my household.) Do a minor cleaning—dusting, vacuuming, sweeping, and a general pick-up. But, this time, just put things in a basket and store them away until you have time. Don’t worry about organizing cupboards and closets at this point. Nobody will notice. And, if the kids’ rooms are a mess, just take a deep breath, close the doors and forget about them.

Follow your checklist for preparations. Set a schedule of when to do what, and don’t forget to allow time for a shower and getting yourself ready. Give the kids some simple preparations to do, or send them to a friend’s house for the day. Or, if they’re glued to the video games, don’t worry. It’s just one day and it will make your life a whole lot easier.

Finally, pour yourself a glass of wine, sit back and enjoy!



The more you can clean up before you go to bed, the better. You’ll feel less overwhelmed in the morning. When you do wake up, finish cleaning. Get the dishes put away. Restock items in the bathrooms and guest rooms. Run the vacuum once again.

Put away the items/decorations you won’t be needing anymore. Buy new storage bins if you need to. Label everything so you know where to find it next year.

If your hosting duties are done for the season, pat yourself on the back and appreciate all you accomplished. If there’s still more to come…rinse and repeat.

Good luck to all of you! And, Happy Holidays.