While it seems hard to believe, since you still have Halloween candy in your pantry, the holidays are upon us – which means it’s time to prepare for holiday hosting. The key to stress-free entertaining this holiday season is to implement this NYC professional organizer’s favorite organizing solutions so that you’re prepared and can enjoy your time with your guests. Imagine that – having fun at your own holiday party, dinner or brunch!
As with any professional organizer project in NYC or elsewhere, the key is to be very focused on your objective and to tailor your organizing solutions accordingly. With a little advance planning, you can easily get your home in order, pantry stocked and be ready well before the first guests arrive. Here are some suggestions for getting prepared.
Assess Your Space
Well before party day, consider which rooms in your home you actually use for entertaining. If you’re hosting a sit-down dinner, you’ll want to eliminate clutter from your dining room table, but may not have to worry about having your home office in pristine condition. If you’re hosting guests overnight, take some time to spruce up your guest room and make room in the closet for guests to hang clothing and store luggage.
This is a perfect time to clean out and donate clothing, coats, shoes, toys, books and other items that you no longer wear or use. In all rooms you’re planning to use, throw out or shred papers you no longer need and put away items that aren’t in their place.
Be sure to consider your guest list. If young children are among your guests and your home is not “kid-proof,” move breakable and valuable items to high shelves or store them away safely in a closet or storage bin.
Don’t put off cleaning your home until the last minute – you can’t be the life of the party if you’re exhausted from a day spent scrubbing baseboards. Get the whole family involved with eliminating clutter and divide up tasks to be done over several days (even younger children can help with dusting, wiping down countertops and cleaning mirrors). If your budget allows, hire a cleaning service to take this task completely off your to-do list. Either way, getting the big clean-up done in advance means just a few last-minute touch-ups before your event.
Tabletop decorations don’t need to be expensive. Fill containers with fresh greenery and flowers, arrange assorted candles and add a few sparkly ornaments for a festive display. If you’re offering buffet-style foods, placing boxes of various heights under platters and serving bowls gives dimension to your table and allows for more food to be displayed. Cover the boxes with a second tablecloth or purchase a few yards of fun holiday fabrics to accent your arrangement.
If you put up a lot of holiday decorations but have trouble remembering from year to year where they go, take pictures. Store the photos with your holiday decorations and refer to them when it’s time to decorate.
Cooking and Cleaning
If you’re preparing food versus having your party catered, are a few simple organizing solutions will help you to avoid stress in the kitchen.
Select menu items that can be prepared in advance – and then prepare them in advance. Many items can be made well ahead of time and frozen until you’re ready to heat and serve.
Simplify where you can. Purchase pre-cut vegetables and fruits. Order side items and sauces from your favorite restaurant, grocery store or specialty food store. Choose menu items that are simple to prepare and can all be ready to serve at the same time.
Clean up as you cook. Nothing dampens the spirit of a festive holiday event like walking into the kitchen afterward to face hours of clean-up. Have counters clear and wiped-down before your guests arrive. Be sure that your dishwasher is empty so that you can load used dishes quickly. If you’re not working with a caterer, consider hiring a student to help with clearing dishes, collecting glasses and general clean-up throughout your event so that you don’t end up in the kitchen all night.
Advance planning and some simple organizing solutions can make this holiday season one you’ll enjoy and remember. Cheers!