You may think I'm mad to be talking about cleaning for Christmas already but the thing about cleaning is that it all is so much easier if you just plan, plan, plan! And I think that with only five weeks to go before Christmas it's okay to at least talk about planning.
I usually spend my whole December in a socializing/present-buying/cleaning haze – sounds just terrible doesn't it? Well – last year I decided I was getting too old for all of that and it was time to enjoy December. You see I had come to realize that the bit before Christmas is the really enjoyable bit for me. Somehow once the day comes it seems to be all over and then you're in to the post Christmas relaxation phase. But all the days before Christmas were spent willing Christmas to come and then somehow I'd missed it all. So last year I sat down in November and did a plan. I had to fit in carol concerts, Christmas parties, shopping, present wrapping and cleaning. I decided that little and often was the way to go about it and all the time to try and enjoy whatever bit I was in – whether work or fun.
First of all you need to decide what kind of person you are – are you the "I won't be happy if I know there's a smidgeon of dust ANYWHERE in the house type" or are you more like me – the "I'm happy as long as I can't see it now, knowing that I can do it tomorrow type". If you are the former you will be doing a lot of work in the next few weeks. If you are the latter you're going to have a lot more party time!
Let's look at the thorough clean first. You may as well accept it – you cannot clean your whole house in the few days immediately prior to Christmas so you need to use the next five weeks to parcel out the workload. Start with the areas that will not see any visitors over Christmas which is all bedrooms and ensuite bathrooms except the guest bedrooms. Do your spring cleaning on these areas over the next two weeks and they will still be fine by Christmas – you will obviously have to do your normal maintenance on them after that.
The next areas are what I consider the utility areas – washing/drying room, kitchen cupboards, utility room, playroom etc. Try and get your deep cleaning on these finished at least two weeks before Christmas – again, maintenance will be necessary as usual. At this point I think it's good to do the windows also and get them out of the way. You can always clean the front downstairs windows and front door area again just before Christmas.
One thing you might consider doing at this point is to have a look at any old toys that can be recycled or given to a charity shop to make room for all the new ones to come.
One week before Christmas I would do my spring clean of the living areas. This one week interval won't suit everybody because of Christmas decorations. I think, by and large, it is best to do spring cleaning before decorating because if you don't you will be totally frustrated by working around them and your decorations will look wonky afterwards. This is why one week works for me – I don't usually decorate until then.
After the spring clean it's a question of maintenance every day. It's very frustrating to try and keep this level of clean right up to Christmas but probably worth it every time you walk into your home and see the Christmas tree amid your beautifully kept rooms.
For the rest of the population it's going to be a question of the minimum work to be done in the minimum time to make your home look comfortable, clean and welcoming for the season. This will probably be done two or three days before Christmas so it's crucial that at this point you do not try and clean everything. Have a good look around and decide what really has to be done. Concentrate on the areas where guests will be over Christmas – living room, dining room, guest toilet, and guest bedroom. Remember – everyone is here to see you and not your home!
There are a few things I would suggest that everyone, regardless of type, must do in order to enjoy Christmas:
- Defrost your freezer at least one week before the day – you are so going to thank yourself for remembering this one when your fridge is overflowing with goodies that need to go in the freezer and the doors are stuck fast with ice!
- Clean out that oven – it's looking reproachfully at you and it does deserve a little TLC just once a year.
- Do clean out at least one food cupboard to allow for the extra buying that happens at this time of year.
- Don't have any overflowing laundry in the basket – it's only going to annoy you. If you reach the day before Christmas Eve and it's still not done, why not consider going to the local launderette – just for peace of mind – this is one of my bugbears.
- Don't miss the bin man in the week before Christmas – especially the green bin – you are going to have a lot of paper and cardboard that will need to go somewhere.
- If you're using crystal, china or cutlery that is in storage, don't leave it until Christmas Eve to get it out to be washed.