Man Preparing Food For A Dinner Party

Cathy Yeulet

Nobody has to tell you: Our lives are getting more hectic all the time, and the holidays are no exception. So we got some tips on planning ahead so that everything runs smoothly— and when the big day comes, you’ll be free to celebrate it with your family.


For an important party, planning can start months in advance, notes Kathy Arnold of Kathy Arnold Painting and Remodeling. She recalls a client who was hosting a company Christmas party, and called her in October. “We went in and painted several rooms, put in new plantation shutters and purchased all kinds of Christmas decorations,” she says.

Of course, many people’s party planning isn’t nearly that involved. Many clients simply want key areas of their home refreshed before opening it up to family, friends or coworkers for the holidays. A new look for the entry hall, dining room or kitchen might be just what your home needs for the holidays. Though Arnold works with her clients to get projects finished quickly, she does recommend planning any major re-dos as far in advance of an event as possible. “People think of things at the last minute and they want it done tomorrow, so that’s what I do.”


Having a floor that is not only clean, but shiny and scuff-free, will leave a subtle but lasting impression on your guests. Terry McClung of Buff & Coat Hardwood Floor Renewal offers a buff and coat service that includes specialized cleaning, along with a light sanding and a high-quality, water-based polyurethane coat. “It’s odorless and one of the hardest finishes in the industry today,” she says. “Depending on the square footage, most floors are done in a day.” Although the finish is sealed enough for light foot traffic within a couple of hours, she recommends waiting 24 hours before returning furniture to the room. The polyurethane hardens completely within five days.

McClung notes that if you’re considering a buff and coat, or even a complete sanding and refinishing of your hardwood floors, it’s best to have it done before you decorate for the holidays. “A lot of people put their trees up around Thanksgiving, and you want to do this before your tree is up with all the decorations.”


A deep cleaning and de-cluttering, along with decorations and finishing touches, are the final steps to getting your home ready for entertaining. “If you’re getting the home ready yourself, you need to schedule a time to clean just like you schedule your cooking,” says Lynn Jacobson of The Maids Home Services. “Decide if you’re going to do it the day before the party, or the morning of. Concentrate your efforts on areas where guests are going to congregate, like the kitchen, living area and bathrooms. Close the doors to the other rooms, such as the bedrooms. You always want the bathroom your guests are going to use to be spotless.” She recommends using window cleaner on fixtures to make them really shine. “If you have any clutter throughout the house, which we all do, get an extra laundry basket and throw it in one of those bedrooms you’re going to close off.”

Jacobson suggests setting the table the day before, de-cluttering the refrigerator and making sure the dishwasher is empty ahead of the party. Use the cleaning setting on your oven if it hasn’t been cleaned recently, she adds. “If the oven hasn’t been cleaned and you’re making a turkey or using high temperatures, it’s going to smoke.” Next, create extra areas for seating and congregating, moving side tables and potted plants into a spare bedroom to make extra space. “And if you don’t want to do it yourself, call us,” Jacobson adds. “Everybody’s busy these days. This would be a major thing to take off your plate.”