Getting ready for holiday guests can be as stressful as cooking for them! We all have the image of that picky mother-in-law running her finger along the fireplace mantle looking for dust – always the one place you forget to wipe!  Check off the following “TO CLEAN” spots in your home and you can relax when the doorbell rings in the first partiers of the season:

Windows: even at night guests can see smudges and marks on a dirty window.  Don’t obstruct the festive view of twinkling lights through your windows.  Take a Saturday afternoon to focus on the interior and exterior window including the dust sills.  You will be glad you did when you too can enjoy the sights of your neighborhood coming alive with holiday cheer.

Exterior Entrance: hose off the steps, prune back plants, dust pots, wipe down the front door and shake out the entry mat.  Those pricey poinsettias won’t shine unless your front porch does!

Entry:   Stash those gardening clogs, put away the mail and clean the entry mirror.  First impressions matter so inspect your entry with a careful eye.  Offering a nice bowl of mints or candy for a sweet exit is a nice touch, too.

Floors: Probably the most important space to clean, your floors are the FIRST thing guests will judge.  Whether carpet, tile or wood – get it done.    Hire a professional for a thorough cleaning– it’s REALLY worth the money.  And, don’t forget furniture legs – they are a dust magnet.

Stove Top, Oven, Refrigerator – Don’t cringe when friends ask if they can help in the kitchen. We all know it is one of the most popular places to gather at a party so make it guest ready.

Sinks and Garbage Disposal – stuff a whole lemon down the garbage disposal and de-funk kitchen and bathroom sinks by pouring in baking soda, vinegar and boiling water.

Lighting – dust shades, lighting fixtures and sconces. Clean face plates from grimy finger prints, too.

Toilets – enough said.

And, if at the end of the day you still sniff the lingering scent of family life (kids, pets) – just as party time arrives, brew up a pot of coffee and bake the dessert – nothing smells better!