Saturday, June 30, 2018

Parenting Pointers: A Cleaning Checklist for Party Planning

By Abigail Sawyer

One of the items on my love-to-do list is helping celebrate. Just give me a reason, from the typical holiday to my made-up ones such as a celebration of summer, and I’m off and running. Planning decorations and hunting fun menu ideas make me happy. 
Despite my initial enthusiasm, I’ll confess as the party date approaches, the whole idea becomes less fun. That’s because I’ve suddenly created a massive to-do list and added stress to the top of it.
A little experience in this hosting business has changed things and allowed to keep my enthusiasm throughout. The key is to not create a massive to-do list for just before the party. Much of your list is cleaning and home maintenance tasks that could be taken care of in advance. Once I got the hang of spreading out the chores involved in having the house look just-right, the pre-party stress dissipated.
A Month Out
If you know you’re going to host your sister’s baby shower or family reunion cookout, you don’t have to wait until the date is set to start getting ready. The more you do early on, the better you’ll feel. Once you’ve decided to hold the event, jump in with both feet — even if it’s still weeks away.
This is the perfect time to tackle those household chores you’ve been meaning to do. These are the kinds of things that can be done ahead and will still look great a month from now. Here are a few ideas:
  • Take a fresh look at your front entrance. Do you need to pressure-wash the house or porch? Paint the front door? Put out a new doormat?
  • How are those front flower beds? See if you need to weed, trim branches or mulch the beds. 
  • Visit the garden center and freshen up your pots by the front door.
  • If your party will spill outdoors, repeat those steps for your back patio or porch.
  • Clean window exteriors.
Inside, there are a few tasks that seem to happen only when you get around to it. Make time for them now.
  • Arrange to have your carpets shampooed or your tile grout cleaned.
  • Clean the oven. You are bound to use it and built-up grease is not a great party aroma.
  • Grab your paint and touch-up nicks on walls you’ve been meaning to paint.
  • Take a walk around the house and make a list of any maintenance items from loose doorknobs to burnt lightbulbs to blinds that need updating. Take time to fix or replace those things.
  • Polish your silver and iron your linens (if the party has a fancy twist to it). Hang pressed tablecloths or runners on hangers and they will be fine until the big day.
Two Weeks Out
There are some cleaning tasks you don’t do every week but certainly need doing occasionally. Two weeks from the party is the perfect time to knock all of those off your list. This way, you’re whittling down your list for closer to the party.
Windows- Your beautiful windows are a focal point in many of your rooms. It’s time to address cleaning both the window treatments and removing fingerprints and doggie nose prints. This task is much easier since you cleaned the window exteriors earlier.
  • Begin with the window treatments. Removing the dust from them first means it won’t fall on your freshly polished glass.
  • Use your vacuum’s soft brush attachment to vacuum the dust from closed blinds, shutters or shades. Vacuum across and down.  For vertical blinds, vacuum downward. Turn blinds and shutters in the other direction and vacuum again. Wipe any marks gently with a soft, damp white cloth.
  • Follow label instructions on drapes or curtains. Since you are two weeks out from your party, you have time to take them to the dry cleaner or wash them. Try vacuuming them first as it might freshen them sufficiently.
  • Use glass cleaner to polish the glass. For streak-free results, wait to clean your windows when the sun is not shining on them.
Light Fixtures, Art and Baseboards- Since you’ve got your vacuum and attachment out in each room, go ahead and vacuum anything up high. This includes light fixtures, chandeliers, ceiling fans, tall mirrors and pieces of art. Then run your vacuum attachment around baseboards. This means that next week, you’ll only need to do the floor.
Kitchen- The kitchen is the heart of the home. It’s usually the busiest room in the house and often represents the biggest list of items to be done. A number of these can be done ahead to make things easier come party time.
  • Declutter kitchen surfaces. Over time, we tend to accumulate things on the countertops and island. Take time to weed through them. Either put them away where they belong or throw them away. Only leave out small appliances you use daily. Be selective about home décor left out, as you’ll need all your space come party time. Don’t forget to clear the surface of your fridge of its layer of papers.
  • Visit the pantry. Even if you are having potluck or picking up food, you’ll still need storage space for extra drinks, bags of chips and paper goods. Tidy your pantry and while you are at it, throw out any expired foods to make room.
  • Open the fridge and freezer. Just like your pantry, you’ll need extra space next week. Organize the contents, toss expired items and consolidate multiples. 
Guest Room- Big parties often bring someone from out of town who will need to sleep over. If you have a guest room, prepare it with clean sheets and towels. Clean the room and shut the door so it stays clean. 
One Week Out
Use the last three days of this week for grocery shopping, cooking, party setup and errand running. You’ll want to focus on cleaning in the early part of the week. Fortunately, many jobs are completed already.
Save the rooms used the most to the end of your list, as they are the most likely to get dirty again. In most cases, that includes the kitchen and bathrooms. 
Start your big clean by gathering throw rugs and tossing them in the washer, following label directions. This way, they will be clean and dry by the time you are ready to put them back down.
In each room, follow these steps:
  • Gather clutter in a basket so you can later carry it to where it belongs.
  • Place trash in a trash bag.
  • Tidy the space.
  • Use a microfiber duster or cloth to dust furniture. Follow up with glass cleaner for glass.
  • Vacuum the floor.
  • Move to the next room.
  • Put away items you gathered in the basket.
Finish by cleaning the bathrooms from the top-down. Start with mirrors and tile, then sanitize each fixture and end with cleaning the floor.
In the kitchen, you should only have a few tasks left. Give each surface a good cleaning including scrubbing out the kitchen sink and don’t forget to wipe out the microwave. Complete the job by mopping the floor.
 Day of the Party
As much as you’ve cleaned and prepared, there’s no way to avoid a few last-minute wipe-downs and pick-ups. Use this list to make sure you’re ready.
  • Start at the front door. See if you need to sweep the porch or walk.
  • Grab a laundry basket, some glass cleaner and paper towels. Visit each room. Gather out-of-place items in the basket and use the cleaner and towels for any touch-ups. 
  • When you’re in the bathrooms, take time to hang up fresh hand towels or guest towels.
  • Look over high-traffic areas and see if they need a quick vacuum.
  • If you’ve been doing a lot of food prep, you may need to give the kitchen floor one more mopping as well as take out the trash.
  • Put away the items you accumulated in the basket.
  • Open window shades and blinds to fill your house with light and show off the view.
Finally, hang on to your to-do list. It won’t be the last time you have a party at your house and the next time you host, you’ll have a great checklist to get you started.

Abigail Sawyer is a Senior Social Media Specialist for She loves all things home improvement. Abigail draws on her years of personal experience to share tips on cleaning, hosting and choosing home décor. To find a selection of window blinds that will help transform your home before your next party, visit   

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