Any time you have the masses descend upon your home for a feast we all make a Herculean effort to clean the house until it reaches the realm of the virtuous, void of the sins of bad puppies and messy husbands.
Even if you keep a tidy home, there are areas that don’t get touched often because they’re hard to reach–like chandeliers or underneath sofas and other large furniture. As you get older that list of unreachable places gets longer.
I’ve found that if I start three weeks early, I can get to most everything without killing myself.
Two extra points though.
- If there are other bodies living at home, give each of them a job.
- Leave one room that is off limits to guests. This is where you can store daily use items that shouldn’t be out during a party. For us, it’s extra pillows, shabby sofa throws, and exercise equipment.
This is my schedule before a BIG get-together.
Three Weeks before:
- Decide on your guest list. Send out invitations.
- Plan your menu.
- Wax floors or steam clean carpets. You want to give them enough time to dry and let the odors from the detergents dissipate.
Two Weeks before:
- Tidy up the areas that aren’t regularly cleaned. This includes unused spare bedrooms, patios, and back yards. Clean or polish the hard to reach areas. Think high then low.
- Declutter. Move items to their proper room or discard.
One Week before:
- Super clean the rooms that people will see or use. This includes family rooms, bathrooms, and dining rooms. Super cleaning involves wiping down and polishing all surfaces, lamps, and overhead lighting. Clear the cobwebs.
- Freshen all bedrooms and bathrooms with freshly laundered linen.
- Buy groceries and/or liquor for the big day.
- If decorations are needed, finish decorating now.
Three Days before:
- Pull out all the serving pieces, linens, and cutlery you’ll use for your big dinner. Make sure everything has been washed and is ready to use.
- Make a timetable for when each item should be defrosted, cooked, or put in the oven.
- If you have pets, wash them now so they’ll be clean and dry when your guests arrive.
- If wines need to be chilled, put them in the fridge now.
Two Days before:
- Side dishes can be made ahead of time. Stuffing, soups, casseroles, pies, and sauces should be made now.
- Dust and vacuum. This depends on your house. I have pets, so I tend to save the dusting and vacuuming for the day before if not the early-early morning of the big event.
One Day before:
- Go through the house, room by room. Is anything out of place?
- Make your last minute extras like cookies and cakes.
- If friends and family are bringing a dish, call them to confirm that everything is going according to plan. If someone drops the ball, you’ll still have time to put in a backup dish.
Day of the Feast:
- The house should be spotless, and your main course should be defrosted, seasoned, and ready to cook, roast or bake. Give yourself plenty of time, just in case accidents happen.
- Set the table. Put out fresh flowers or candles. Keep the centerpiece simple. There are probably going to be a lot of serving plates already on the table.
- Shower, then lay down for an hour. Even if all you do is close your eyes, it’ll give you a chance to center yourself. I can’t stress this enough. You need at least one hour to yourself. Tell the kids and/or significant other to fend for themselves for that one hour.
- Have wine or other beverages ready to serve as soon as company arrives.
- Relax. You’ve done all the work. It’s time to enjoy your guests.
The nice thing about getting the house this pristine is that for the next few days I can relax in front of the tv and eat leftovers. It’s like having a vacation.
Do you like to host dinner parties? Or do you prefer to be the guest? What do you usually bring to a party–aside from your charming personality? 🙂