5 Holiday Prep Cheats you can do NOW!


Happy holidays ..gulp.

I know so many of you are hosting parties and overnight guests and there’s a ton of planning and preparing involved.  Since this can be a rather overwhelming time, I thought I’d arm you with some killer plan-ahead cleaning tasks and strategies so that as party time approaches, you’ve got some really important things done well ahead of time.  Your future self will thank you.  So, let’s strike 5 things off your holiday to do list, right now!

Clean Bathrooms and Day of Bathroom Routine

I think it’s fair to say that if you are having guests come over to your house, at some point, they’re probably going to want to use your bathroom.  So it makes sense that your bathrooms are a *must-clean* zone before anyone dawns your doorstep.

Now, I hear you; cleaning bathrooms is not your idea of holiday spirit.  But here’s what you can do to keep it simple and manageable.  The first thing you need to do is create a baseline.  Give your bathroom a quick once-over which should include a wipe of the tub and shower, baseboards and floors, sink, counter and mirror.  I know it’s a busy time so if you can dedicate 15 minutes to this, as in, it doesn’t have to be perfect, you’re good.  Then, all you’re going to do for the next two weeks is go into maintenance mode.  And here’s the plan:

  • Every few days, wipe the counters, sink and faucet with a disposable cleaning wipe, this will maintain your cleaning.  You can do this quickly before you go to bed.
  • Start to declutter your personal effects now by placing any non-essential bathroom items into a basket. This will save you from that last minute panic of hiding all of your bathroom goodies.

On the day of the party:

  • Take that basket of personal items and hide it somewhere while company is over.
  • Use a disposable wipe to give the counter, sink and mirror and toilet a quick polish and finish-up the bathroom by shining up the faucet – a shiny faucet has a big impact.
  • Empty the garbage can
  • Give the toilet a quick scrub – 30 seconds max
  • Refresh your supplies.  Make sure you have a ample extra toilet paper, a clean plunger, topped up hand soap and freshly laundered hand towels.
  • If you are feeling like going that extra mile in the bathroom – get yourself an essential oil reed diffuser to give the space a pleasant scent – it’s safer than candles and these tend to smell better than other artificial air fresheners.

3 Mat System

For those of us who have to deal with the woes of winter like snow, ice, sand, salt and other undesirables substances you don’t want inside your home, here is a helpful system to keep your boots, shoes – and your entry area – under control when company comes over.   Set this up a couple weeks in advance and it’s one less thing you need to sweat day of. By the way, I’d recommend having a strict shoes off, or indoor shoes only policy.  My aunt and uncle always travel with an extra pair of shoes and no one gets bothered by their shoes in the house.  Smart.

Here’s what to do:

  • Start with a heavy duty doormat just outside of your door which will hopefully encourage your guests to stomp off the majority of the brick-a-brack on their boots OUTSIDE.  This should be tough, rugged and bristly.
  • Next, place another doormat on the inside of your door to protect your floor from anything that wasn’t stomped off outside of your home.  This absorbs dirt and moisture and keeps the mess contained to a very small areas.  We purchased a large one which really helps when we have a few people coming in at once and taking off their shoes and boots.
  • Finally get yourself a good, deep dish boot tray, which will easily contain any boot gravy.  Yeah, I just went there. Boot gravy: salty, dirty drippings from your boots that no one has time for.
  • Here’s a handy tip – if you need more space for footwear or have a LOT of people coming over, have your guests slip their shoes or boots into plastic bags and then write their names on them – this is a great way to recycle plastic bags too!

Guest Room Prep

If you are planning on having some of your guests stay overnight at your home – you’re going to want to ensure that your guest accommodations are actually accommodating.  So, here are a few tips to help you step up your home’s guest experience!  This can easily be done a couple weeks in advance.

  • Try to make the room as clutter-free as possible – perhaps you love your collection of baseball cards and sexy leg lamps – but your guests might not.  So, like we did with the personal items in the bathroom, we’re going to put any clutter that is lying around in a box or a basket and tuck it away in a closet until our guests leave.
  • Wash the bedding – no one likes the thought of sleeping in a bed made with dirty linens, so make time to give everything a good washing beforehand.  Then, make up the bed nice and crispy.
  • Here’s a really nice touch – leave out some fresh towels for your guests – and you can really knock their socks off by also leaving out some basic toiletries for your guests to use – you know, the ones you steal from hotels.

Only Clean What A Guest Sees

As party time approaches, there’s that terror that sets in; that sense that you have to clean your entire house, like every nook and cranny.

To avoid getting caught up, just remember to *only clean what a guest will see*….your guests won’t be rummaging through your drawers, so there’s no need to spend time cleaning your drawers.  When you go to someone’s house, what do you see?  Exactly.  So that’s where we’ll focus our efforts.

This includes baseboards, floors, front hall closet, mirrors, eye level stains and dirt.  Detailed cleans can be saved for another time.  Any places you don’t want guests to go, just shut the door.  People respect the shut door. We all have shut doors.

Sparkling Service Pieces

My mom would pull out serving dishes and  ‘company cutlery and dishes’ well in advance of the party and put my sister and I to work.

  • First job was for us to shine up cutlery and service pieces.  To do this, add boiling water to a casserole dish and fill it half way, then add a cup of vinegar.  Then, dump in the cutlery, wait 10 minutes and wipe to a shiny clean using a dry microfibre cloth.
  • Then, we’d polish up plates and serving dishes.  So, for any plates that have those little annoying black marks on them – you can use cream of tartar to quickly scrub those marks away.  I made a video about this a long time ago and this trick still amazes me to this day:  just shake cream of tartar on your plate, add a few drops of water – just enough to make a paste – and use your fingers to scrub the marks away.  It’s that simple!  You may have to put in a little time and elbow grease, but the results are amazing!
  • Finally, we’d have to shine up glassware.  This is simple, boil a kettle and quickly hold the glass up to the steam, then wipe the glass clean with a lint free microfiber cloth or clean linen.   This gets rid of schmutz and lipstick stains.  This is high impact people, high impact!

Hopefully this helps you get ready for the holidays, and whatever you celebrate and whatever your plans are, I wish you the very best!!!

5 holiday prep tips pin

Melissa Maker is an entrepreneur, cleaning expert, founder of Toronto’s most popular boutique cleaning service, and star of the Clean My Space channel on YouTube (but she still hates to clean!). Every week, Melissa delivers new videos dishing expert advice on cleaning products, tools, DIY substitutes, and practical, timesaving solutions to everyday problems. Melissa has appeared on the Today Show, and has been featured in InStyle, Real Simple, and Better Homes and Gardens.


  1. For Q n’ A: Hello from Melbourne Australia!!! Love love love CMS!!! Now what I hate… Well that’s those stains I find on clothes after they have been laundered. I have tried all sorts of things but nothing. How do you get rid of grease stains that have set in or have already been put in the washing machine???

  2. For Q&A – my canister vac smells weird when it’s running. I’ve changed the bag and use baking soda on carpets prior to vacuuming. Get this very unappealing warm wet Dorito smell. Any help?

    • Hi Martie. It may sound strange, but try sprinkling ground cinnamon or ground potpourri directly onto the floor and then clean it with your vac. It will surely help you in short terms, but I don’t know how long it will last. Hope it helps!


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