Holiday Countdown – Checklist for Stress-Free Entertaining

Posted on September 26, 2013. Filed under: Entertaining Tips, Household Tips, Kitchen Cleaning | Tags: , , , , |

Thanksgiving Table

Can you believe it is Fall already? The holiday season will be here before you know it.

When you are preparing for festive gatherings, the key to stress-free entertaining is preparation.

Our checklist gives you a few things to do each week, so that entertaining isn’t an overwhelming task. Follow our checklist and get ready to enjoy yourself along with your guests.

4 weeks before

  1. Make your menu (and shopping list).You probably already have a traditional menu. Starting early this year, however, gives you the chance to be creative.  Perhaps this is the year to try lamb instead of ham?
  2. Recruit volunteers.Volunteers can be your children, your spouse, or friends. Ask for help now so that everyone is ready to do their part. Here are a few tasks to assign to volunteers: preparing a side dish, watching your children while you grocery shop, preparing the Easter eggs, choosing games, or polishing the silverware.
  3. Make your outsourcing decisions.Will you handle all of the cooking or enlist the help of a caterer? Do you plan on cleaning your home yourself, or hiring a house cleaning service? Decide what you will handle, and what you will outsource.
  4. Create your guest list, and invite your guests.
  5. Take stock of your home.Walk through your home, and take a fresh look through the eyes of your guests. Do you need to refresh the towels in the guest bathroom? Does your lawn need sprucing? Do you need the decks cleaned? Make your list, and decide who will take care of these items.
  6. Take stock of your decorations, fine china and silverware.Your fine china hasn’t been used in several months, and your decorations have been in boxes for almost a year. Inspect them to decide what you need to clean, repair, or purchase.

3 weeks before

  1. Place your order with the caterer.
  2. Schedule your house cleaning.The best time to have your cleaning service perform a detail cleaning is the week before a holiday.  It stands to reason that this week is also the busiest time for home cleaning services. Make your appointment now to reserve your space on the schedule.If you decide to do the cleaning yourself, set 6 or more hours aside the weekend before to get your home in tip-top shape.
  3. Finalize your shopping list.If you haven’t already, it is time to finalize the shopping list. Highlight the non-perishable items that can be purchased ahead of time.

2 weeks before

  1. Shop for your non-perishables.Buy everything that you do not need to purchase fresh. This can include canned goods, beverages, spices, and decorations. Shopping 2-3 weeks before Easter also has the added benefit of helping you avoid the crowds.  Tip – clear space in the your pantry and refrigerator before you go shopping so that you have somewhere to store your items.
  2. Buy your decorations.You’ll get the best selection of decorations by buying them now.

1 week before

  1. Clean your home.A week before is the best time to clean the home from top to bottom. If you’ve scheduled an appointment with a house cleaning service, this is a task you can easily check off your list.  If you haven’t, get your supplies and block off at least 6 hours.
  2. Prepare your food.Are there any dishes (or portions of dishes) that you can prepare and freeze ahead of time? Go ahead and get those out of the way.
  3. Polish your silver, and wash the fine china.While you are getting your home cleaned, go ahead and clean your silverware and  fine china. Better yet, have your teenagers handle this task.

1 to 3 Days before.

  1. Decorate.If you do not have small children, you can probably set up your decorations several days to a week in advance.
  2. Set up your dining room.Get your table and service areas as close to ready as you can. This provides another opportunity for you to make certain you have enough serving dishes and utensils.
  3. Shop for fresh items.Buy flowers, vegetables or fruit.
  4. Walk-through.The night before Easter, walk through the areas your guests will be visiting to see if there is anything that needs to be cleaned or repaired.

The Night Before

  1. Prepare the food.This is probably when you will be preparing most of your dinner. Our tips will help you keep your kitchen clean while you are cooking.

Before your guests arrive.

  1. Prepare your last minute dishes, making sure to keep your kitchen clean as you do.
  2. Do a last minute walk-through.
  3. Relax, and get ready to enjoy your guests.

I hope this checklist comes in handy as you prepare for Easter entertaining. Feel free to comment and share your Easter entertaining tips.

What are your secrets for stress-free entertaining?

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Raina Raflo owns Sponge & Sparkle, Atlanta’s oldest and most reputable independent maid and house cleaning service. (404) 633-9652.

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