Day 2: Brighten the Windows and Entry
On the second day of your party-cleaning effort, it's time to get down to the dirty work. If you follow these hints, you'll spend only an hour or so on each day's cleaning tasks.
Stick to your list. Avoid distractions, such as a messy drawer or a stack of photos you intend to add to a scrapbook. Those extra tasks drag out the time it takes to finish your list and undermine your cleaning efforts. Be sure to include cleaning time in your daily schedule.
Start by giving your whole house a brighter outlook.
- Wash the windows in your party spaces. It's amazing how much prettier clean glass is. Even if your party is at night, the glass will glow and shimmer in candlelight or party lighting.
- Vacuum the window screens. Get rid of dust and cobwebs that give windows a dingy feel.
- Clean the glass in your front door.
- Sweep your front porch, steps, and walkway. Brush away cobwebs, and clear away any obstacles. Give your entry a fresh, welcoming appearance.
- Damp-mop the baseboards to add a little shine near the floor.
- Toss window and shower curtains in the laundry. Take a little time to press them, too. The fresh, clean smell will begin to permeate your house, and the crisp, pressed look highlights the newly cleaned windows.
Day 3: Clean the Bathrooms
Impress your guests with a sparkling-clean bathroom or powder room. Take care of the messy work early, and the bath will only need a quick refresh on the day of the party.
- Scrub the toilets.
- Clear the counters of clutter. If you don't have enough storage space to put everything away, tuck the toiletries into a small basket. Leave the basket on the counter for everyday use until party day. On the day of the party, hide the basket in a closet, under a bed, or in some other discreet spot.
- Clear the tub or shower, and scrub it until it shines. Either neatly arrange bath essentials in an organizer, or nestle them in a container to be hidden away just before party time.
- Organize the contents and clean the surfaces of your medicine cabinets. People are nosy by nature. They will peek. Tuck away anything you want to keep private.
- Straighten the bedrooms. Store any clutter out of sight.
Day 4: Clear Guest Areas
In the middle of the cleaning effort, it's time to make sure guests have plenty of room to mingle during the party.
- Review your list of fragile or irreplaceable items. Put them in safe places on high shelves or tuck them away from errant elbows and messy spills.
- Clear the clutter from your living areas. Use an empty laundry basket to gather odds and ends, stray clothing or shoes, papers, books, magazines, toys, and other items that have been left on tables or the floor. If you have time, put everything in its proper place now. If you don't, tuck the laundry basket into an out-of-the-way spot such as a laundry room, closet, garage, or basement storage area.
- Straighten the entryway and coat closet. Make room for guests' outerwear. Consider moving your family's outerwear to another closet or other temporary storage until after the party. Add extra hangers for guests, if necessary. Clear away backpacks, briefcases, shoes, scarves, gloves, sports equipment, and other items that are typically left in the entryway (a laundry basket makes a convenient temporary container).
- Scan your living spaces for unnecessary everyday items. Even things you use regularly might be in the way during a party. Clear your walkways and tabletops to make plenty of room for guests to rest plates or glasses.
- Wash your throw rugs and set them aside until the day of the party.
Editor's Tip: Draft laundry baskets as organizing tools. Label a basket for each member of your family. As you're clearing clutter from your living spaces, drop the items into the owner's basket. Ask each family member to put away the items in his or her basket.