We sorry for using the “C” word in November, but there’s only six weeks until Christmas! Hopefully you’ll have time to relax, and you don’t want to spend that time worrying about having to do a year’s worth of cleaning in the half hour before your mum arrives, because even though you’re in your 30s with kids of your own, she still makes you feel like you’re 12-years old with a messy bedroom.
Follow our easy plan and before you know it you’ll be sitting with your feet up, with a glass of Prosecco and a sense of smug satisfaction that comes from enjoying the results of your organisation.
6 Weeks Before
Settle down with a cuppa, a notepad, access to your favourite cookbooks (or Pinterest), and start planning. Think about what you’ll be doing, not just on Christmas day, but the days around it, who you will be feeding and what they’ll eat, who you need to buy presents for (a Family Clean gift voucher is a great idea…) and important dates like your work’s Christmas party, or the school Christmas concert. Things in our house go crazy the minute the first door of the kids’ Advent calendar is prised open, and I know if I don’t have everything written down I will forget cakes for the school party, or that I am supposed to be picking my brother up from the airport.
If you’re not already doing it, now is a good time to clean your diet up and start with regular exercise. I doubt health professionals will agree, but I think of it as banking some healthy habits now, because I know my sleep and diet will suffer in December!
If you have your groceries delivered, check online to see if you can book your delivery slot. Having been let down with non-delivered items in the past, I now prefer to click and collect, or order for delivery no later than 22 December so I still have time to get anything that’s missing. You have time to amend your order so don’t worry if you haven’t finalised your shopping list yet.
5 Weeks Before
Last week was about planning, this week we move onto writing shopping lists – both food and presents. Keep them somewhere handy so you can mark things off as you buy them, or add new items as you go along. Knowing what you want to buy will help you to spot bargains. Speaking of bargains, buying food and booze in bulk with a friend or two can help cut your Christmas bill as long as you keep to what’s on your list, and not get distracted by everything else on offer!
If you’re hosting a Christmas party make sure you book your Family Clean Spring Clean now. Like Santa cleaning elves, we’ll swoop in before and/or after your party, so you don’t have to lift a finger.
Check out our spring cleaning guide if you prefer to tackle the cleaning yourself. Dedicate this week to making space. Declutter your bedrooms, including clothing, and living areas. Donate, recycle, or sell anything you no longer want. Vacuum pack and store winter blankets and clothing. Put a box or basket in each room for fast tidying away of things that don’t belong in there.
It’s rare you’ll see me in a shop in December. Presents get ordered online (for delivery to work, so I can sneak them into the house), I get my shopping delivered, and I pick up fresh bits from the markets. Even the nicest person can surprise you with the ability to go feral once Christmas fever sets in, and the less said about choosing between finding a parking space or struggling with bags of stuff on public transport, the better!
Cleaning wise, focus on the outside of your home. Pressure clean your patio, give your garden a thorough tidy, fix any flapping fly screens, wash windows, and treat yourself to some new doormats. Add colour with hanging baskets and pot plants and, if you’re going to be hosting a party, think about whether you’ll need to borrow or hire any extra outdoor furniture.
Start preparing food that can be frozen. A friend of mine with a large family actually hires an extra fridge and freezer for a few weeks in December, so she has somewhere to store everything.
Post any Christmas cards and gifts you’re sending. Australia Post state you can post things up to 10 December for delivery to New Zealand, but it’s easier to do now than queue in a fortnight with everyone else who has left it until the last minute.
You might need some help this week, because it’s deep clean week. Choose one room each day and clean it from top to bottom. Dust and vacuum ceilings and light fittings, working your way down the walls (we love Magic Erasers for getting rid of grubby marks, dusting shelves, but be careful you don’t remove the paint), cleaning windows and mirrors, washing skirting boards, and finally cleaning your floors. Our natural stain removal guide may help with any spots on your carpet and soft furnishings.
If you’ve got kids, start thinking about activities for the school holidays and reserve your place on any that need pre-booking.
Have a final blitz before you deck the halls, including washing your front door inside and out. Check your shopping list and get the last of any non-perishables, including things like napkins, and batteries for toys. Put your tree and decorations up.
Clean your fridge, freezer, and pantry out so you have somewhere to store the influx of food and drink. Write a meal plan for the next two or three weeks, depending on how busy your calendar is. Plan healthy lunches and dinners for the days when you’re not socialising. Make an effort to get sufficient exercise and sleep, and drink enough water. Tiredness and dehydration will make you grouchier than the Grinch.
Give every room a quick daily check, putting back things that are out of place, and generally keeping on top of the housework.
1 Week to Go!
Keep checking rooms daily to make sure they’re clear and clutter free. Vacuum and wash floors, and give all glass and windows another wipe – at least on the inside. Wiping your taps and chrome surfaces with a 1:1 mix of water and white vinegar will have them gleaming.
If you can’t make up guest beds in advance, at least have everything clean and ready to go. Pick up any last minute orders such as your meat and lay-bys. Wrap your pressies and drop off any you’re delivering by hand.
Buy the last of your fresh ingredients, including spare milk and bread to put in the freezer in case you run low over Christmas and can’t get to the shops. Label or hide anything you definitely don’t want eaten before Christmas Day.
Sit down, breathe out, and enjoy the fruits of your labour. If it’s not done by now, it’s too late and, trust us, the world won’t end.
…that’s more like it!