preparing for holiday entertaining

Ohmygosh. You just finished scraping the last of the jack-o-lantern from the front porch and it's already time to plan the Thanksgiving menu.

What's a temporally-challenged hostess to do?

Take some deep breaths and let's get organized. You've got six weeks to get your act together. Fine-tune a few pesky details now and holiday entertaining will be a piece of cake.

Preparing for Holiday Entertaining: Now's the Time to Clean All Things Holiday in Your Home

Get a jumpstart on holiday entertaining by doing as much of the cleaning and prep work as you can now - before the holiday onslaught begins.

Got guests coming for Thanksgiving dinner? Or for the first night of Hanukkah? Maybe you're having a Christmas cocktail party.

Don't wait until the guests begin to RSVP to begin preparing for holiday entertaining.

Here are things you can do ahead so you can be cool, calm, and collected when you open the door.

  • Polish the silver. Get out the silver utensils, serving dishes and candlesticks and give them a good polishing.
  • Wash china and crystal. Save time by popping the holiday china and crystal in the dishwasher several days or weeks before the big event. Then you don't have to worry about spots and dust when you're setting the table. Did I say "dishwasher"? I sure did. Most modern china and crystal is dishwasher safe - as long as you load carefully so that pieces don't clank against each other. If you have any reservations about their safety, test wash one piece before filling the racks. Hand wash heirlooms and pieces trimmed in gold or silver.
  • Clean holiday linens. Inspect, clean, ad iron your festive tablecloths, runners, napkins, and placemats.
  • Plan your centerpiece. Plan and/or order your centerpiece for your dining room table as well as other floral arrangements. (Idea: Drape leftover Halloween pumpkins with autumn leaves and spray paint the whole thing gold for a very simple, elegant centerpiece.)
  • Clear the coat closet. Empty out your coat closet so it can contain all of your guests' coats. Position a coat rack or wicker bins where guests can leave handbags, umbrellas, gloves, etc.
  • Adjust your floor plan for traffic. Your regular floor plan may not accommodate a host of people. Move furniture so to create intimate conversation areas as well as good traffic flow. Set up the bar in the living room or den to keep people out of the kitchen.
  • Prepare the guest bathroom. Make sure the guest bathroom is sparkling and put out new towels and soaps. Do not put lighted candles in the bath if there will be children running around.
  • Declutter your home of items not essential for holiday entertaining. Go through your home and remove nonessentials from every surface. Put them in a box in the attic until after the holidays. This action serves many purposes: It removes delicate items that visitors might inadvertently break. It clears surfaces for drinks. It clears surfaces for holiday decorations. And finally, you might decide you can live without that junk and get rid of it for good.
  • Prepare the guest bedroom. Remove most of your personal items so the room will feel like their own during their stay. Empty drawers and closets so they can unpack. Make sure they have an alarm clock, radio, reading lamp and some books or magazines. Leave a basket of fruits and snacks and some bottled water. Their room should be their little refuge if they need some down time (you might need some, too). Install a night light to prevent falls in stranger rooms in the dark.

Preparing for holiday entertaining will make the season more enjoyable. Now's the time to get started!

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