Five tips to help clean up before (and after) the holidays

You made it through Thanksgiving, but depending on your household, you’ve got at least two more holidays and a lot of chances for drop-in guests just around the corner. Is your home ready for guests? Do you have a plan for after the revelry?

1. Don’t wait until the last minute.

There’s nothing more stressful than realizing that guests are coming in two days and your home and yard aren’t in good shape. Deep clean a couple of weeks in advance and do touch-ups as you go until your guests arrive. Apartment Therapy has a great checklist to help you get the job done and still have time for decorating, cooking and family time.

2. If you’re still running out of time, go ahead and take a shortcut.

Smudges on your dining room wall? Don’t repaint, use a Magic Eraser. Curtains a little musty but no time to dry clean? Shake them out and use a fabric refresh spray. Find more of these hints here at Huffington Post.

3. Your garage is not a garbage can—it needs attention, too (ditto for your attic).

File this one partially under “Don’t wait until the last minute.” We’ve all had those stacks of papers lying around, broken/forgotten toys underfoot or a closet full of clothes you don’t want or need. Throwing them in a box or bag and stuffing in the garage is not a good idea. Holiday gift-giving means you run the risk of adding to the mess instead of going back to sort and dispose like you originally intended. Clean out your garage before the holidays so you have room for your new tools, decorations and toys. Check back to my post on National Clean Out Your Garage Day for tips on a deep clean and this post from Organized Home for more on de-cluttering techniques.

4. Tidy the yard before decorating.

You may have already done your last mow and mulched or raked your leaves, but it doesn’t hurt to do a little survey and see how things look before stringing lights or setting up displays. Remove fallen debris and clear out any excess leaves—too thick a layer will smother your lawn. Clear out debris from shrubs and gutters or those lights will highlight the clutter instead of your home. Looking for outdoor decorating ideas? Try this post from House Beautiful.

5. After the holidays, do one more de-clutter.

It’s easy to collapse after a busy holiday season and put cleanup on the back-burner. But taking the time to go back through your home and garage will save you tons of time and frustration throughout the new year. Use the shipping boxes you received to take those old toys, clothes and decorations that just got replaced to a donation center. Fix or ditch the broken decorations instead of wrapping them up for next year. Organize and store the decorations you’re keeping in a labeled box or bin and put them in that garage or attic you so carefully cleaned before the holidays. For more of these decluttering hints, Organized Home has some more great ideas.

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