Company’s Coming! Ten Hurry-Up Tips to Help You Through the Holidays

It always happens. Just when you’ve decided to bake twelve dozen of your grandmother’s Norwegian Christmas cookies and clean the entire house down to the baseboards, somebody gets sick.

Or you need to make an angel costume. Or your kid’s basketball team makes it to the play-offs (no one really expected them to get that far), and on the weekend you had set aside for cleaning and baking, you wind up making a team banner and driving half-way across the state. It’s always something.

And so I’ve compiled a list of “mom-tested” tips guaranteed to make your house “company ready” in a hurry. (My thanks to everyone who contributed!)

First, however, a few words about priorities: People count more than things. Sure, it would be nice to shop for a new couch or repaint the living room in time for the holidays. But unless you were planning to do those things anyway, home improvements can wait. Christmas is about making time for family traditions, friends, food and faith – not necessarily in that order.

Here’s my top-ten list:

1.  Hide a stash of goodies from the kids so you have something on hand when company comes. You don’t want to be running to the store at the last minute. Whether you bake or buy, a tray of cookies, or cranberry and banana nut bread, makes the season special. Also, pick up an assortment of natural teas. For a festive presentation, put several boxes of Celestial Seasonings holiday teas in a basket and tie with a red ribbon.

2.   Store non-holiday decorations and knick-knacks in the garage or closet until after the New Year.  Put extra appliances under the kitchen counter. Less clutter means a cleaner look.

3.  Stop mud and dirt at the door by providing a laundry basket for shoes and boots. This will cut down on vacuuming, mopping, etc.

4.  Protect your good Christmas tablecloth with an inexpensive, clear plastic cover. You can buy plastic sheeting at fabric stores. Table covers are also sold online. No need to remove it for meals. You can clean it with a sponge, and your holiday tablecloth will always be “company ready.”

5.  Good smells are welcoming. Hang a few pine boughs (never close to fire!). If the carpets are stale-smelling, shampoo or have cleaned before you decorate. Before company comes, open a window and let in fresh air, or use a natural air freshener.

6.  Make (or buy) one or two meals for the freezer. Then when visitors are having way too much fun and it’s getting to be meal time, you can invite them to stay for dinner. This is a big $$ saver. You don’t have to order out.

7.  Use laundry baskets for last-minute pick-ups. Set the timer and have your little elves gather up all the stray items on the floor. Reward with a sweet treat. Stash baskets in the garage, laundry room, or bedroom closets. (It helps to enforce household chores, including bed-making. Santa’s keeping a list!)

8.  For fast bathroom cleaning, wipe surfaces and mirrors with a towel immediately after showering, while they’re still steamy. Finish off with a fresh-smelling wipe.

9.  Keep extra trash liners under the ones currently in use. Before company comes, take out the trash and put the new bag in. (Don’t forget to recycle your plastic grocery bags!)

10.  Next time you’re out shopping, pick up a few extra little gifts. Wrap with a note as to contents and have on hand for those unexpected guests.

Just remember to keep the whole family involved. Don’t panic. And enjoy your company!  FFG

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