Last-Minute Dinner Party? No Problem
Get your house party-ready in an hour or less.
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Don't let your messy house stand in the way of a good time during the holidays. `Tis the season to celebrate with friends and family, not sequester yourself in solitude with your stack of dishes and unfolded laundry.
We've consulted a couple of cleaning and de-cluttering gurus to help you whip your house into shape in an hour or less. The key, they say, is setting priorities: Everything can't get sparkling clean in this short period of time. But you can get the things clean that people notice most.
"Focus your efforts where they're really going to show," advises Paula Jhung, author of Guests without Grief: Entertaining Made Easy for the Hesitant Host.
Where should I start?
For a dinner party, the most important areas to clean will be your living room and foyer, the kitchen and your bathroom.
"The prime real estate is the entry way and the kitchen counter," says Barbara Tako, home organizing expert and author of Clutter Clearing Choices: Organize your Home & Reclaim Your Life. These are the areas people tend to congregate.
You won't have time to sweep, mop and vacuum the house. That's not really necessary, Jhung says, as most people will be looking higher, and focusing more attention on tables, shelves and places to set their drink.
"You want to make sure that you get things clean that are closer to eye-level," she adds.
Before you start, put on a sweater and open a few windows while you clean. This will get out any stale odors and make your place smell fresher than any pine-scented candle could. To keep yourself on schedule, you can set a timer for 15 minutes for each of the cleaning areas below:
Living Room and Foyer
- Do a sweep around the room and clear clutter, Tako says. Put shoes, jackets, hats, newspapers, toys, mail and anything else that shouldn't be in these areas in bags that you can stash out of sight.
- Stack magazines neatly in a basket or the end table.
- Use a microfiber cloth to dust any horizontal surfaces, as well as the TV and coffee table.
- Straighten out couch cushions and pillows, drape a throw over any stains or worn spots, and if you have pets, run a cloth or pet roller over any visible fur.
- Check the floor and clean up any food stains, giant dust bunnies or clumps of pet hair. Grab your stash baskets or bags and move on to the bathroom.
Meet the challenge of cleaning safely around children with these green tips.