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10 Holiday Cleaning and Entertaining Essentials Checklist

10 Holiday Cleaning and Entertaining Essentials Checklist

If you have a tradition of entertaining for the holidays, you’ve probably had that sinking feeling once or twice when guests show up and you discover that something was missed in the holiday cleaning checklist.  Perhaps the guest towels were musty smelling. The silverware for the big dinner was tarnished. And, who hasn’t seen cobwebs festooning the seldom used light fixtures in the guest room the moment you’re helping carry in the suitcases.


A Person Holding 3 Wine Glasses Upside Down While Cleaning to Entertain Guests

Here’s a handy dandy cleaning and preparation checklist to help you keep on track and save your sanity. Ah, yes … sanity. We come into this world with a finite supply of it, and hate to lose any to silly stuff like diverting the fussy in-laws attention while you deftly scoop up the hairball the cat left on the guest room bed. What? That’s never happened to you? You must have dogs.

Anyway, print this out and run with it.

1- Take a tour of your own home. Inside and out. Make a Master List of what needs to be done. Focus on the obvious public areas, guest rooms and baths, plus any food prep areas.

2- Right now is the time to call and schedule a good cleaning of: carpets, tile floors and countertops, and showers. This can be one of the biggest headache preventatives.

3- Take stock of holiday linens, silverware and glassware that may need cleaning. Does the glassware have a hazy film from the last dishwashing? Is the silver tarnished? Are the linens musty or need a fresh ironing? Add these to your list. And remember that sending linens out to the local cleaner for a wash and iron might be a great way to reduce the work load. Glassware may benefit from a good hand washing, perhaps with a bit of vinegar in the hot water rinse. Drying with a clean, soft cloth will make it sparkle. Tarnish can obviously be removed with commercial tarnish remover, but we hear that simply rubbing with the inside of a banana peel can do the trick.

4- Don’t over-schedule yourself for tackling all these cleaning tasks. The object is to maintain your energy levels and sanity. Make a reasonable cleaning schedule for yourself, and enlist family members to help. Assign something to everybody.

5- Make up a ‘maintenance’ schedule. Once you have the house deep-cleaned, you’d like to keep it that way. A simple bi-weekly maintenance schedule can help a lot. Again, assign family members, and post the schedule where everybody can refer to it for accountability. Maintenance schedules might look like this:


  • Load and run the dishwasher.
  • Tidy up public spaces.
  • Empty trash.


  • Pay and mail bills.
  • Do one load of laundry, fold and put away.
  • Make a grocery store list, and do shopping.


  • Clean bathrooms.
  • Vacuum public space floors.
  • Sweep off doorsteps and entryways.

And, we can’t say this enough: “Delegate chores, and hold people accountable”.

6- Take a ‘whiff’ test of the guest room bed linens, and the bath linens. Are they musty? This happens to the best of us – especially if you live in a region of the country where mold and mildew are constant threats. Toss them into the wash with a quarter-cup of baking soda. Still musty? Wash them again with a quarter-cup of vinegar. Dry them in the longest, hottest dryer setting.

7- How is the refrigerator? Mine the fridge for all the forgotten leftovers. Out! Got little dibs and dabs of stuff in bottles? Out! You’ve got to unload the fridge, as it’s going to be filled with fresh food, and leftovers from big holiday meals. Now is the time to take everything out, make sure it’s not a ‘science experiment’, clean the inside and the shelves, and only load back in the right things that you’re sure you’ll need. Your guests will think you’re Martha Stewart. Remember to take a dust wand over the top of the fridge, and down underneath.

8- Stock up on paper. Toilet paper. Paper towels. Paper napkins. Paper plates for those post holiday dinner snack attacks.

9- Take a good gander at every window. Dusty? Filmy? Streaky? Sparkling clean windows can make every home just appear cleaner even when it isn’t. So grab the bottle of glass cleaner and get with it.

10- Bathrooms. Scrub the ‘john’. Got stains? We hear that a 20-ounce bottle of that famous soda, poured into the bowl can really do wonders. Pour it all over the inside, and let it ‘set’ for 20 minutes. Then scrub. Remember, to wipe down the top of the tank, and behind the seat, also down the front of the bowl, and finally the floor in front of the bowl where the ‘boys’ dribble. Stock toilet paper in all bathrooms. We also stock little ‘necessaries’ in guest baths, like: a couple of different types of pain reliever, tampons/pads, hand lotion, hairspray, an extra toothbrush and toothpaste, and some disposable cups. Put out some nice hand towels, and a small vase of flowers.

That’s it, troops. Now it’s time to hit it.











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