During the festive season, you want your home spick, span and ready to sparkle. However, keeping your house clean and tidy during such a busy time can be tiresome and stressful – a sure-fire dampener to the festive cheer. Here are some ideas to make it less of a chore.
Clear the clutter
Before you think about decorating your house, it’s best to clear out the year’s clutter. Tired at just the thought? See it as getting rid of the old to make space for the new, and remember how much easier it will make clean-up operations later on.
Research in The Journal of Neuroscience suggests that a cluttered space impacts your ability to focus – so clearing the clutter really can clear your mind. What’s more, you can give away some of what you clear to do your bit during the charitable season.
Some top tips for decluttering:
- Get the whole family involved. Crank up the volume on your favourite holiday soundtrack to make it fun – or resort to bribes (a video, perhaps) for touchy teenagers.
- Start early! Tackle one room at a time and don’t overtire yourself. Within a room, it helps to work systematically from top to bottom and left to right.
- As you go through a room, evaluate each item. Ask whether you or any family members will need the item in the coming year. Only functional or cherished items should stay.
Once your home feels clearer, keep a close eye on areas that tend to draw clutter. Aim to put things in their right places on the spot so that clutter doesn’t start to regain the upper hand.
Dole out duties
After clearing clutter, do a thorough clean. It helps to assign different tasks or areas of the home to different family members, and they can stay responsible for these throughout the holiday period.
If you get your kids to see cleaning as part of prepping for “Santa time” and guests, they may even enjoy it – especially if you save the Christmas decorating as a reward for a job well done afterwards. Give age-appropriate tasks to your children and consider setting a time limit to add a game element to it all.
The kitchen is where most of the action happens during the festive season, so make it workable. Tips for keeping things simple include the following:
- clear out your fridge so you really know what’s there and to make space
- put away anything you won’t need
- take out serving dishes, glassware and any other special tableware ahead of time to check that they’re clean
- plan side dishes and desserts you can make in advance
- if you’ll be preparing a large roast, plan your timing (including when to start defrosting, as well as correct cooking times) two days in advance, on paper
- don’t overcomplicate your menu – tried, trusted and simple is usually best.
Also, if you haven’t tried disposable cookware, like aluminium trays for roasting, you really should. Who needs heavy-duty washing up to do after the Christmas feast?
Easy clean-up after wrapping and present time
If you have more than one person giving gifts, limit the amount of paper off-cuts on carpets by having one designated wrapping station. It should be in a room that can be locked for privacy, and each person can take their turn to wrap.
When it comes time to unwrap gifts, have a bag or box ready for discarded paper and packaging. A cardboard box wrapped in festive paper makes an attractive bin you can leave right where it will be needed.
Making room for gifts
With all the new stuff that comes into your home in the form of gifts, a good idea for kids (or adults, for that matter) is the following. For each new gift received, two old items should either be tossed or given to charity. A compromise is to have less-used toys put into an intermediate storage box. You can take it out on a rainy day in the middle of the year and it will feel like Christmas all over again.
Put those “white elephant” gifts in a re-gifting cupboard. Just remember to tag them with who gave them to you to avoid making the ultimate faux pas!