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It’s that time of year again ladies and gentleman! The holiday season is upon us. For many of us we’re getting ready to celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas. Some of you may even be preparing for Hanukkah. Whatever the holiday may be, this season is a magical one. Full of love and family gatherings. We love spending the holidays back home in Maine with all of our friends and family, but with the military, it’s not always doable. Like this year, for instance. We’re in a brand new place, over 3,000 miles away from anyone we know and it’s actually quite stressful. This year, I’ve decided I very much don’t want to miss out on Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrations simply because we’re not home to celebrate. So instead, I’ll be hosting the holidays in our own home for the first time ever. Unfortunately, I don’t have a book telling me how to be a good hostess. So I plan to wing it!
When we were stationed in North Carolina, we had friends who opened up their home to us every single holiday. Now, I want to be the one opening up my own home to those who aren’t able to travel home to visit their families. For a newer wife, this can be quite the scary, stressful situation. I instantly got stressed the moment I decided I wanted to do this. I’ve never made a turkey before in my entire life. No idea how long it’s supposed to cook, on what temperature, or how to even tell if it’s done. Mashed potatoes and vegetables I can handle, but I only know how to make stuffing from a box. And then you have dessert which, again, I’m not the best at. This could easily be a train wreck. And on top of it all, my house is nowhere near ready to host company.
Preparing your home for the holidays can be just as stressful as the hosting process itself. But the number one thing you have to do when hosting a get together in your home is making that home presentable and inviting.
DONT try to do everything the day of. If something can be done in advance, then do it in advance. By getting things done ahead of time, you’ll have more time throughout the night to socialize with your guests and really relax and enjoy the night. There’s no sense in doing absolutely everything all in one day unless you love being super stressed out.
DO be social. I know it’s a tough job hosting an entire evening, but be sure to take the time to be social with your guests. After all, they’re there for you.
DONT forget the appetizers. Depending on how long dinner will be, you don’t want your guests starving in the mean time. Especially if you’re in a house full of men. Whether it’s chips and dip or something more extravagant like wings or mozzarella sticks, make sure your guests are fed!
DO keep dietary restrictions in mind. You don’t need to go above and beyond, but if you have a guest that’s allergic to something or is a vegetarian, then do your best to make sure there are food options for them as well.
DONT invite all strangers. It’s great to introduce your friends to new people, but if you’re inviting people who literally know no one else there then it’s going to make for a slightly awkward situation. It’ll either be a relatively quiet atmosphere or it could cause everyone to break into smaller groups throughout the house. You want your guests to all get along and mingle with one another. So keep that in mind when you’re deciding on the guest list.
DO make a playlist. Background music makes the night so much more festive and lively. And it’s a great way to tune out any silent moments and breaks in conversation that may occur.
DONT turn the music up too loud. You want your guests to be able to hear one another and have conversations. If the music is too loud, you’re left with a room full of people who have no idea what the others are saying, forcing them all to have to yell to one another. This isn’t a college dorm party. You’re hosting dinner in your home as a grown adult. So be sure that people who may be sitting on opposite sides of the room can hear each other without raising their voices. Everyone should be able to be part of the conversation.
DO make sure your guests are taken care of. Welcome each and every guest as they enter your home and make sure you’re offering them a drink as well. This allows them to instantly feel more relaxed and at home.
DONT forget to dress appropriately. Yes, you’re in your own home, but please don’t host a dinner party in your pajamas. To me, this just isn’t very classy and I’d personally feel a little weird walking into someone’s home to them still in their pjs while I’m dressed for a get together with friends. Take the time to get dressed and look nice for your guests.
DO clean up your home. Straightening up your home is so important! It just makes it so much more inviting to new guests. I know I personally hate visiting friend’s homes when I know they don’t clean up after themselves. It just makes it hard to get comfortable and enjoy the night. So here are some target areas to clean up include:
- Bathroom. Whatever bathroom your guests will be using, make sure to keep extra clean! Be sure to clean the toilets, sinks, shower/tub, floors, mirrors, etc. Remove any laundry that may be hanging out in there. Make sure lightbulbs are all working, there are clean hand towels and make sure you’re stocked up on both toilet paper and hand soap! You want your guests to have everything they need right there in front of them. There’s nothing worse than having to use a dirty bathroom or not being able to find a clean towel to dry your hands on. And God forbid you run out of toilet paper!
- Living room. This is the room your guests will most likely be spending the most amount of time in. Add some music, get rid of pet hair, do some dusting, vacuum the rugs, etc. You can even set up some snacks on the coffee table as well so that your guests have something to snack on while they wait for dinner to be ready.
- Dining room. Your dining area is a super important place to clean up because this is where you’ll all be settling down to eat. Create a pretty centerpiece if you have the time and creativity to do so. It can even be something as simple as some fall florals or candles. Whatever you want!
- Kitchen. The kitchen is where the magic happens so you absolutely have to make sure this space is cleaned up ahead of time so that you have more space to work with while cooking and prepping all the food. Also, if you do not have a cooler for drinks, then chances are your guests will be coming through the kitchen to grab more drinks. So it’s another area of the house that you wouldn’t want to be super grimy when you have company over.
Rooms that your guests won’t be visiting can be left alone if you choose to do so. BUT keep in mind any guests who may ask for a home tour of some sort. If they’ve never been to your home before, they may love to have a look around. So I’d be sure to keep bedrooms tidied up as well. It would be horrible to be showing a guest your bedroom only to have your underwear lying on the floor. Think and plan ahead!
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Whenever I have a long list to do list, I always like to create a check list. That way I can better see what it is that I have to get done and I can check it all off as I go. I couldn’t imagine NOT having a check list for things like this. So I’m going to show you how to put together the perfect master cleaning list.
STEP ONE: GATHER YOUR MATERIALS.
This is really a super basic process.
- A printer
- Printer paper
- A computer
- 1 sheet protector
- Google / inspiration
STEP TWO: CREATE YOUR LIST.
When it comes to cleaning, I like to break it down by room. That way I can go from room to room and have that individual checklist rather than bouncing back and forth around the house. Also, when you’re focusing on one room at a time, it’s so much easier to notice what else has to be done while you’re in there. You’re a bit more focused on that one room. So it works well for me.
Once I have an idea of how I want my list set up, I’ll start typing! I like to make it in checklist form, that way I have a little box where I can check off each task as I go. This is really a personal preference so you don’t have to do that if you don’t want to! It just makes my life a little easier. If you want to get really fancy, you can even color code the tasks as well. Sometimes I do this and sometimes I don’t. It depends on what the list is for. If you need some inspiration on things that need to be cleaned up, then consult Google or Pinterest. These are my go to sites for things like this simply because there are thousands of other women out there who have made cleaning lists as well. Chances are, they’ve thought of things that I didn’t. And be sure to add everything I listed above as well!
STEP THREE: PRINT AND PROTECT.
Once you have the full, completed list, it’s time to print it off and get to work! I like to put my lists in a sheet protector and use a dry erase marker to check off the tasks. This allows me to save that same check list for future clean ups rather than having to re-print it or make a newline entirely if I forgot to save it. Again, this is personal preference!
Need some great recipes and cleaning tutorials? Check out this site for more!
How do you prepare your home for the holidays?