It’s that time of year when the house is abuzz with a flurry of festive activity.  If you’ve not had enough time to catch your breath in 2020, nevermind get your house looking sparkly fresh, try some of these tips to get your home spick and span before guests arrive.  

Tidy up fast
If guests are simply popping in for drinks or having a quick meal, don’t worry about  tidying up every nook and cranny each time someone comes over. Just make sure the main areas that they’ll see and be moving around in, like the sitting room, kitchen and bathrooms for example, are clean and neat. Declutter living spaces like the sitting room. Bookshelves are oftentimes the messy-looking clutter culprits, housing all kinds of knick-knacks and photos which somehow found their  way among the books. Next, turn your attention to any other shelves, windowsills or table tops that need a quick clear out, so that the room feels clean and comfortable.

A time hack if you’ve had little, to no advance notice that guests are unexpectedly about to arrive, is to do a quick whip-around and tidy up by popping anything you don’t want on show into a laundry basket that you can hide in the cupboard. It may not be the most elegant solution, but it’s a fast one!

Sparkly clean 

During the year you may not have noticed the accumulation of kids’ fingerprints on the walls, pet stains on the carpet and stubborn grimy marks in the oven. Now that you’re looking at your house through a guest’s eyes, the need to freshen things up suddenly takes top priority. Start off by making sure the area outside your front door is tidy and clean, by replacing old doormats with new. Create a bit of cheer with personalised door mats that sport a festive message – see Netflorist or Itchy Feet for great ideas.

It would be ideal to deep clean carpets with a steam machine and get curtains dry-cleaned, but if you don’t have the time, there are quick and easy tasks that you can action to create the impression of a spring-cleaned home. Dust off all hanging lights, like pendants and chandeliers, wipe light switches clean, and tidy up and dust all shelves. In the kitchen, throw out old food in your fridge, stack groceries neatly inside cupboards and wipe your oven interior down, just in case guests decide to come through to the kitchen to offer a helping hand.

If you really can’t afford any time to do these chores, be thankful that you live in the digital age.  Save yourself major stress by hiring an efficient, trustworthy cleaner from SweepSouth to get the house sparkly clean, or help with time-intensive things like windows, cabinets, the fridge and oven. The service also has gardeners for hire, and painters, too, if walls need to be freshened with a lick of paint. All SweepStars follow strict Covid-19 safety protocols while at your home and have been vetted prior to being assigned to a home.

Decor hacks 

Try these quick decorating tips to create a magical feel fast:

Your entrance area: Make a decorative bowl by filling it with pretty decorative baubles in just one colour, and place it on a table at your front door entrance, to set the mood as guests walk in. Set the scene further with a scented candle that has warm notes to create a gorgeous Christmas aroma, like cinnamon, cloves and vanilla. Yankeee Candles Cinnamon Stick with cloves is a festive favourite. If you have a console table, turn it into the star of the show with a quick, but stunning display of different sized glass vases filled with Christmas decorations. Pile on the festive treatment by laying a row of sparkly Christmas lights on top of it for instant night-time glitz as guests arrive. 

Sitting room: Dress up your home quickly with faux fur cushions and sumptuous fabric throws over backs of couches. Now find a corner where you can create a statement, and put a cake stand down and fill it with a few gorgeous decorations. Creative ideas include adding an array of snow globes with pretty crystals scattered inside the dome; pine cones with pretty flowers dotted in between; a pillar candle with ivy loosely wrapped around it; and lastly, smaller shiny baubles interspersed with tea light holders used as mini vases for white roses. 
A modern day idea for a make-shift Christmas tree in case you haven’t had time to put a proper one up yet is to place a few baubles at the bottom of a vase, arrange slender twigs standing upright, then hang baubles off them. Give your entrance some personalised charm by, hanging a bunch of greenery in your front doorway, or from a window, and clip special Christmas cards to it.

Gorgeous little touches
Try these style ideas for instant effect:

  • Style your table in a flash. Raid your garden for some green foliage and slip it into napkin rings with crisp white serviettes, then put a short length of ivy next to each place setting, with a name place card popped on top – easy!
  • From now until Christmas, get guests who come around to write their own message to you on a pretty label and hang it on the Christmas tree, for a personal touch that will bring a smile to your next guests’ faces.
  • Crafty? Place flowers on your table that you’ve given a light spray of craft glue to, then dip these into glitter – gorgeous! Or give a flower bouquet a touch of opulence by spraying the foliage bronze or gold.
  • Tie some Christmas decorations to chair backs for extra sparkle. Just group a few baubles and a sprig of greenery, and tie these to your chair with a gold or silver ribbon. 
  • Dress a shelf to impress with white candles. Group white pillar candles in a row, interspersed with white flowers like lilies, with thin strands of eucalyptus leaves trailing in front. Mr Price Home and Westpack Lifestyle have very affordable pillar candles. This idea also works well for tray decorations.

Time for treats
Easy entertaining tips for added glamour: 

  • Welcome hungry guests by readying a plate of mince pies or little snacks on a console table as they arrive.
  • Serve your drinks from a silver or golden tray for a smart, glamorous touch. For extra festivity, tie ribbons in festive colours to the bottom of Champagne flutes – it will also help guests keep track of their glasses.
  • Who doesn’t love an easy to create cheeseboard? Laying out the ingredients is simple , and you can buy them ahead to store in the fridge for days. Wow guests with a variety of at least three different cheeses. A safe choice would be a rich blue cheese, a hard cheese (like an aged Gouda) and a creamy Brie or Camembert, or try something different by adding a cheese with festive fruit in, like Fairview’s soft White Rock with Cranberries. Where there’s space on the board, pop in crackers, grapes, nuts, biltong, salami and even a condiment like fig spread, and you have a cheeseboard that’s all-out fantastic.
  • Buy a luxe ice cream like Paul’s to keep on standby in the freezer. Serve a few scoops with a mince pie or Christmas cake for an instant treat.

Remember that after a year that’s been tumultuous for every single person, a warm welcome and loving atmosphere will trump all else. Regardless of how prepared you are, or how much you have to offer guests, just put on a Christmas playlist to set a festive mood, then relax and relish the time you can spend with friends and family.

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