30 minutes to a clean holiday entertaining zone
Published Wednesday, December 9, 2009 7:50AM EST
Martha Stewart may be able to transform a topsy-turvy home into a holiday haven in 30 minutes or less. The rest of us, however, don't find it such a breeze.
"I'm certainly not Martha," laughs Jane Woolsey, a professional organizer based in Toronto.
"I like to entertain. But, I've never gone that extra mile like Martha does to make things look sweet. Most people don't. The reality is they just don't have the time," says Woolsey.
Pre-planning is always advisable when you host holiday get-togethers. Yet, even if you fail miserably at this skill there is still hope before those first holiday guests arrive.
"If you're rushing home from work, take a minute, go to the front door and look at the space as a guest would who is about to enter your home," says Woolsey.
Only look at those areas that they will see. For example, the front hall, living room, dining room and guest bathroom.
"Don't stress about the kid's bedrooms. No one will even see them," says Woolsey. "Just walk through the front door and say, 'Okay, I only have to deal with this space on the main floor and that's it.'"
Take a quick scan of the junk cluttering up these primary spaces. Then plop the items into decorative holiday boxes.
"I always tell clients to invest in those big boxes that you can buy at the Dollar Store -- the kind that fit inside each other," says Woolsey.
Once the boxes are full, secure the lids and display the pretty containers as part of your holiday d�cor.
"This cleanup trick is fast and easy. You'll still have to deal with the junk inside the boxes after the party is over," says Woolsey. "But, it does the job in a pinch and adds holiday flare to your living space."
For hosts holding a buffet dinner, push your table to one wall and cover it with a cloth that falls right to the ground.
"It may take one or two tablecloths to do the job, depending on how big your table is," says Woolsey. "Once it's completely covered all the way around toss blankets, clothes or other items that can't be stored in time under the table. No one will ever know."
Vacuum the area to remove any last-minute threads, dirt or crumbs. Do the same in the living room and hallway.
Pull out your scented candles, mixing up bigger, bolder varieties with smaller fixes like Febreze's limited edition winter-scented candles. Light them up 10 minutes before guests arrive and let the welcoming fragrances start to build.
Quickly toss any boxes from frozen hors d'oeuvres or other empty containers into one big green garbage bag. Place the bag outside a back-porch door, laundry room or in master bathroom bathtub.
Give your bar area and table a quick dust to make it gleam as h'ors deurves heat up in the oven.
"For those who have their table ready but need last-minute place cards click on www.avery.ca/diy and whip some up fast," says Woolsey.
The site offers free downloadable software with holiday-themed images. "You just run to your computer, click and get a d�cor touch in seconds," says Woolsey.
Before you know it, you're ready to receive your guests in style. But, remember Woolsey's last bit of wisdom: fast fixes are never a replacement for good, year-round cleaning and organization.
"We all live busy lives," says Woolsey. "Once this cleanup is done and the party is over get your living space under control. You'll be in great shape when next year's holidays roll around."