The invitations have been sent. The theme has been chosen. You purchased all the paper cups and plates and streamers. You’re ready for this party. But then you get that sinking feeling, look around and realize, “My house isn’t ready for this party!”
Instantly, your mind starts playing a series of images of family and friends walking into your home and judging your baseboards and cobwebs and windows filled with smudgy fingerprints. It’s all going to be okay. First, breathe. And second, let’s get down to some simple strategies and tips to get your house into shape before your shindig.
Before you take out one single cleaning supply or tool, get down to the business of decluttering the party spaces. Go through all the things that are cluttering up the spaces (paperwork, magazines, clothes, junk, toys, etc) and put them where they belong, especially if that place is the garbage can. If you’re on a really tight timeline, throw all the clutter in a basket and put it in another room, but ONLY if you commit to going through that basket when the party is over. You never want to move clutter around the house like it’s on a sightseeing adventure.
Don’t go overboard.
Unless the party you are throwing is a “Look how spotless every inch of my house is” party, don’t go overboard beforehand. As someone who used to clean for clients before and after parties, I can say with 100% certainty that every inch of your house won’t be seen or used during the party, so it isn’t worth spending your time focusing there. Likewise, kids and their parents will be so much more focused on the fun and entertainment you’ve planned than the grease splatter you forgot to clean up on the kitchen backsplash.
Focus on the party areas only.
As I mentioned above, only focus your efforts on the areas you’ll be “partying” in. Perhaps that’s the living room and kitchen, or a basement, or the entire downstairs. Give priority to cleaning those areas. Be sure to dust, vacuum and clean the floors in those areas. Also, clean the bathrooms that will be used and make sure there is extra toilet paper and hand towels (I speak from experience there. Party host fail!)
Wipe glass and windows for instant shine.
If you’re looking for a way to make the room brighter and give the illusion of a mega-clean space, clean the windows, sliding/storm doors, and any mirrors. When windows are freshly clean, they can light up a room and make it look bright and airy, even if you haven’t had the time to completely deep clean the house.
Create a schedule for yourself.
If you plan to do a deeper clean before the party, it is best to plan that 5-7 days before the event. This gives you plenty of time to do all the things you want to do. Baseboards won’t get dusty again in a week. Save the easily mucked-up areas for the day of or the day before. A simple schedule may look like:
5-7 days before party:
Deep clean and scrub the bathroom
Dust all furniture, moving knick knacks
Wipe down baseboards (this tends to brighten the room by making the floor area look cleaner)
Wipe down doors in party area (to remove fingerprints and dust)
Clean the kitchen thoroughly, including the cabinets, stove top, and removing all expired food from the fridge
Day before/Day of party:
Wipe down the bathroom(s) quickly
Restock toilet paper and hand towels
Wash the floors
Do a last minute declutter of party rooms
Put laundry away (if people will be in bedroom areas)
Do the dishes and put them away
Clean kitchen countertops
Consider hiring someone before or after the party.
If you are totally strapped for time, I highly recommend hiring someone to do it for you, or at the very least help out. In my honest opinion after years in this space, I say spring for someone to help you afterward. I can’t tell you how many clients came back after I clean for them before a party and said, “I wish I had just budgeted for you to come afterward and not before. No one cared how clean my house was during the party and now that they are gone, it’s a mess I have to clean up!”
Give yourself grace.
It’s a party, baby! Remember that the point of it is to have fun. Most, if not all of the people attending couldn’t give a flying fig if there is dust under the furniture. As long as they aren’t stepping into a house of filth, they are going to enjoy themselves. And for anyone who does care, consider keeping them off the invite list next time.