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Growing up, we always had large family holiday gatherings. My parents always made a point to welcome everyone over for holiday parties, birthdays, etc.
My mom took a whole week prior to the event doing an extreme deep clean of the house. Washing walls, cabinets, baseboards & moldings, etc. Oh, and her decorating was ALWAYS on point. She was an interior decorator, so every room (whether we wanted it or not) was decorated.
She had good taste, nothing was ever gaudy or over-decorated, so, for the most part, my dad, brother and I just rolled with it. There were days where I wondered why she just didn't rent a hall or hire someone to prep for any of our gatherings.
You will find that it always seems like no matter how much you clean, or how much you organize; there is always more which you could do. The key to effectively preparing your home to host a party is cleaning and decluttering some very vital areas. You should understand that as long as those areas are clean and clutter-free, then your guests will feel comfortable and welcome in your home.
However, even the most seasoned hostess can be intimidated by trying to prepare their home for guests, especially around the holidays. Over the years I've learned a thing or two from my mom about preparing for holiday entertaining.
How to Prepare Your Home for Large Family Holiday Gatherings
Take a look around your home in a quick sweep and decide what you need to do. Take along a pen and paper and make notes for each room of your home. You will want a closet for your guests to hang their coats in and a place to store women’s purses. While you are doing your home walk-through decide where these two locations will be and write them down.
The first place you will want to start cleaning up and decluttering the entry areas of your home and then work from there starting with the living room, bathroom, and kitchen areas. In addition, if there are other areas in your home where your guests will be, perhaps a game room or similar, that area will need a good cleaning and decluttering as well.
Pay attention to walls, windows, appliances, ceiling fans, shades on lamps, etc. Dust, wipe down, clean. If you have vaulted or extremely high ceilings as we do (or if you're short like I am), I strongly recommend the Swiffer duster with the extension handle. You can reach almost every little corner, ceiling fan, etc without needing a ladder.
Spot clean any furniture or carpeting. I typically do this once a month because of kids & our cats. We were playing like hell to get our cats healthy again while we lived in the apartment (we couldn't get rid of fleas to save our lives and our cats had worms really bad because of the fleas), so now that we're all moved into the house, they are finally feeling better and have been having fewer accidents since the worms have been handled. YAY!
While everyone has some clutter which they treasure; understand that clutter can give an even spotless home the appearance of being messy and unclean. You want your guests to be able to move freely in your home and not be knocking things off of tables or shelves. When you are cleaning for a party be brutal and get rid of as much clutter as you can bear – even if you just simply box it and place it in the garage or attic for the night. This doesn't mean you have to clear off all shelves or tables. Trust me, I don't and I won't. I also don't put up breakables if we have little ones coming to visit.
Assign everyone in your family one additional room besides their bedroom. Each person is responsible for their own bedroom. If you are like me and have a home office, you can assign your spouse the bedroom and one other room, while you take care of the home office plus an additional room.
Just make sure everyone has at least 2 rooms to clean. If you have kids who are anything like mine, they have messy rooms. If you are having an all-adult party, have the kids pick up at least stuff off the floors. That will give the illusion that the kid's rooms are tidy, while not stressing the kids (and yourself) out over having perfectly cleaned bedrooms.
If your large family holiday gathering is informal, consider using casual serving dishes and casual eatery as well. You may even want to purchase some good quality paper plates for the event if it will be a pot-luck or BBQ type event, rather than a sit-down meal. I absolutely LOVE having good quality paper plates for get-togethers. You eliminate the need to have to wash tons of dishes & silverware.
It is important for you to know that where there are people with food and drinks, there will be spills and stains. The easiest way to deal with these issues is to be completely prepared to deal with them before they ever happen. Know where all of your cleaning supplies are. I have 3 spots for our cleaning supplies; laundry room in the cabinet between the washer & dryer, under the kitchen sink, and upstairs above the closet in the hallway. Each spot has a rag, cleaner, and a magic cleaning eraser.
Once your home is clean and clutter-free, then it is time to go around your home and add back some small, personal touches which make your home comfortable and inviting for your guests. You can accomplish this through the use of flowers, photographs of your family.
If you don't have pictures in your frames, put some in (don't wait 5+ years and a move to fill the frames as I did), and add some candles around the house as well. To deal with any musty odors your home may have, activated charcoal can go into closets and cabinets, and you can burn candles or simmer cinnamon, orange peels, cranberries and cloves on the stove. Hide unsightly blankets in ottomans or built in cabinets if you have them.
Once your home has been prepared for and you have a backup plan to deal with any unforeseen stains or spills, then it is time for you as the hostess pop that bottle of wine or fill up your glass with your favorite party drink, sit back and enjoy your your large family holiday gathering.