Your guests arrive in an hour, and the house is a mess. Don’t worry—you’ve got this. Here’s how to become the perfect party host with these quick and clever cleaning hacks.

Tackle the high-traffic areas.

Don’t waste time on rooms where you won’t have guests. Prioritize the places they will be. These include the surfaces that will be seen or used, which means you can skip the top of the bookcase but not the bathroom counter.


  • Sweep floors and vacuum rugs. Pro Tip: Sprinkle rugs with baking soda, wait 15 minutes and vacuum to eliminate odors.
  • Close doors for rooms where guests should not be.
  • Empty trash cans and take out the trash.
  • Make the beds in any room where guests will be, including if you are using a bedroom to keep coats for your guests.
  • Use damp microfiber cloths to wipe pet fur off furniture.


  • Clean the toilet and put out extra toilet paper. Pro Tip: Add a few drops of your favorite essential oil to the toilet bowl. It will make your bathroom smell amazing!
  • Clean the mirrors and fixtures.
  • Wipe down surfaces and hide personal items like toothbrushes and razors.
  • Close the shower door or curtain.


  • Empty and clean the sink. Guests often like to help or will wash their hands there.
  • Clear the counters of appliances. Put blenders, toasters, and other similar items out of sight.
  • Shine the faucets and wipe down counters.
  • Empty the dishwasher so it’s ready to go for a new load.
  • Line the kitchen trash can with multiple bags so when you remove one, there is a fresh bag ready to go.


  • Remove items that don’t need to be there, from umbrellas to boots and shoes.
  • Make sure there is a place for guests’ coats even if it ends up that you will take them to a spare room.
  • Remove any cobwebs from the ceiling and dust any surfaces within easy sight of guests.

Clear the clutter.

Clutter happens during the holiday season but it’s not something you want at your party. Consolidate your clutter so that it’s out of the way. You can deal with it later.

  • Grab an empty laundry hamper (or two) and use it to collect anything laying around that is not in its place.
  • Load it up with mail, bags, and anything that doesn’t serve an immediate purpose.
  • Group similar items in baskets if you can. It’s easy to lose bills or important paperwork when shoving everything together.
  • Stick a note on the side of the basket so you know generally what’s in there for later.
  • Stow the basket(s) away in a spare room where guests will not be. The laundry room is often a popular place. Some folks stash items in the trunk of their car.

Set the lighting.

Go ahead and dim the lights. It automatically sets the mood, plus it’s harder to see any messes that may remain.

  • Candles instantly make the room feel put together. Use flameless candles if you are worried about fire hazards.
  • Choose scented candles that will complement the food. Choose foodie fragrances such as vanilla, baked goods, and seasonal fruit. Avoid floral scents like rose that can be too much.
  • Add a string of holiday lights for an even more festive feel. Just keep holiday extension cord safety in mind.

Get everyone involved.

Make cleaning a group activity. Call in friends or family who asked how they can help. Assign them tasks. Play holiday music. Working together is fun and cleaning is fast. You can even make it a holiday tradition.

In no time at all, you’ll be ready to entertain. Happy holidays!



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