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Deck the Halls: How to Clean House in 30 Minutes or Less

Written by Adrienne Wolter, Community Blogger | Dec 2, 2013 11:59 AM

Photo by Julie Danielle

Even if you're not decked out for the season, you can primp up your home to impress your guests.

According to the legend, Santa Claus has the busiest job in the world, making toys for millions of little boys and girls and delivering all the goodies in a single night. In this story, he possesses an endless list of children’s names, sorting the naughty from the nice and managing the entire North Pole. To accomplish his tasks, Santa uses the magic of Christmas spirit.

During the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, do you ever feel like Santa, the weight of endless to-do lists hanging over your shoulders? Between shopping, decorating, cooking, entertaining and your normal routine, when do you fit in cleaning? Sometimes we too wish we had a little magic.

Instead of wishing, make some magic of your own. Before your guests arrive, take about thirty minutes to clean and "deck the halls" by following some of these great tips for a quick clean-up.


Photo by Daniel Hoherd

You're the only one who has to know about all the crap you just piled up right inside your bedroom door.

Evaluate and Prioritize

Try to focus on where your guests will be spending the majority of their time. If you're entertaining for dinner and quality time, consider your kitchen and living rooms your first stop. Also, always keep your bathroom a top priority as your guests will be sure to utilize those facilities at some point or other. Unless you are giving a tour of your home, there's no need for your guests to visit your bedrooms and office. For an easy solution, just close off rooms you won’t be using... out of sight, out of mind!

Use Your Storage Resources

Closets, cabinets and yes, even drawers will become your best friends. Since you're in a time crunch, put all of your items in these storage spaces to de-clutter your entertaining space. Just don't throw your things away haphazardly. Try to make sense of your "stuffing," because otherwise you'll just create more work for yourself when the guests leave. However, this is a great fix to get rid of your unsightly mess of bills, receipts, kid toys and stray shoes. I like to keep a nice-looking knickknack box on a shelf where I frequently deposit and sort out these odds and ends – I got it for $1 at Michael’s. Score!


Photo by Spencer Tweedy

A clutter-free bathroom is ideal, but at the very least be sure to provide some fresh towels.


It goes without saying, but people want to use a clean bathroom. First, quickly wipe down the sink and mirror. Unless your guests will be using your shower, just hide it away by pulling shut the curtain. Spend a little more of your time cleaning your toilet by wiping down the seat and using toilet bowl cleaner. When you are finished, make sure you have clean towels and extra toilet paper within reach. Finally, light a scented candle or use a fragrance spray to give your bathroom a fresh smell.


Often, holiday entertaining centers around food; therefore, focus a lot of your energy making your kitchen look "appetizing." This means that your sink should be free of dirty dishes and your surfaces should not have any "gunk" or food residue. That way, you can serve food without feeling like your kitchen is a giant garbage heap! Take out your trash and put a fresh bag in your trash can to keep smells away. Additionally, any pots or pans could be washed quickly or hidden away in a dishwasher until your guests leave. Wipe down your surfaces with a disinfectant wipe for a clean smell. It wouldn't hurt to light a festive candle to ensure a fresh aroma.


Photo by Wonderlane on Flickr

It's amazing what a few throw pillows and a blanket can do for your living room.

Living Room

Your guests probably want to relax after dining, so clean up any stray personal items and fluff your pillows. If you have any blankets, make sure they're folded nicely and available for your friends and family to use. Clear off the coffee table and make ready remotes and coasters. You've now found another polite way to tell your guests that you "took the time" to clean. Coasters may seem like an insignificant gesture, but you want to protect your surfaces and make your guests feel comfortable.


Photo by Thomas Barta

Got kids? Recruit them to help with easy tasks like pushing around the vacuum.

A Clean Mudroom

For some dwellings, the mudroom or entryway is the first thing that your guests will see. Begin with good first impressions and make sure you de-clutter this space. That way, guests can use any hangers or hooks to drop off their coats and belongings, without using your bed for coat collection. Also, this is a great space to leave shoes, purses and personal belongings. Having this separate space will hopefully keep cell phones away so your guests can focus on socializing and face-to-face time.

Flawless Floors

Believe it or not, a quick sweep with a vacuum or broom can really make a big impact when your guests arrive. Small pieces of dirt, dust, rocks or debris is very noticeable, especially with light-colored carpet and tile. Since floors take up the majority of the house, the quick sweep will give your place the impression that it has been cleaned by the best pressure washer company in town. You could even advise guests to remove their shoes when they enter the house to avoid tracking in more debris. They will most likely respect your wishes and be impressed with how well you care for your place.


Photo by Maggie Osterberg

After your quick cleanup, don't forget to do a little preening yourself before your guests arrive!

Refocus on You

After your magical clean sweep, don't forget about making yourself presentable. Instead of appearing winded or deflated, take a quick trip to your bathroom to spruce up. Take a comb through your hair, deodorize, brush your teeth and spray some cologne or perfume. A little goes a long way and you will feel better knowing you look as good as your place does.

Time is of the essence during the holidays and it's important to keep yourself and your home in check. While you don't have to perform a thorough "winter cleaning” before your guests are through the door, you can freshen up your home and enjoy the holiday season in the nick of time, without compromising anything on your to-do list.

Have any quick cleaning wisdom to share? Please tell us in the comments below!

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