So the holidays are around the corner, and you've offered a room to both the in-laws as well as to your cousin. But it's the holidays for goodness' sake…you know, that time of year with a packed schedule, a long to-do list, and multiple obligations! Don't worry, you can handle this. Just dedicate some time each day for one week — you'll have your house prepared for guests before they arrive, and you'll be ready to enjoy your visit with them.

Day 1: De-Clutter!

Many times it isn't the dirt and dust that makes our house seem so messy. It's the piles of clutter everywhere! The stacks of mail, the toys strewn every which way, the clothes left piled on the floor of the kids bedrooms. So the first step in readying your home is dealing with the clutter, and you are going to need to recruit some younger helpers to pitch in.

Now, this isn't the time to go on a whole-home organization binge. You simply don't have the hours, and if you head down that path now, you won't accomplish the rest of the tasks on your list. So here's the de-clutter strategy.

Grab a couple of empty laundry baskets and work room by room. Anything that needs to be tossed — throw it in the garbage (or the appropriate recycling bin). Anything that needs to be donated to charity — drop into a laundry bin. Anything in this first room that properly belongs in another room, put into a second laundry bin. Whatever is left, straighten up as best as you. But don't just start throwing things into closets or burying them into drawers — you'll just create a larger mess that you'll need to deal with after the holidays!

Once you are done with the first room, keep going room by room until you've de-cluttered the entire house. And don't forget to put away all of the items from that second laundry bin into their proper homes.

Day 2: Dust the Entire House

This is another job that is perfect for assistance by little helpers. Everyone should have their own dust cloth or microfiber duster. Adults and older children should dust furniture and any objects sitting out on tabletops and dressers, while younger kids can tackle the baseboards and woodwork. Go room by room until the dust has disappeared!

Day 3: Tackle the Floors

Today is the day to vacuum and mop until the floors in every room have been cleaned. Hereafter encourage your kids to remove their shoes when they enter the house, and consider wiping the dogs paws too! The idea is to keep the floors clean until company arrives!

Day 4: Clean the Bathrooms

Make sure that the bathroom that your guests will be using is both clean as well as stocked with shampoo, conditioner, soap, and toilet paper (and keep extra rolls out and available so that your guests will not need to ask you for them). This is a great time to put out those little complimentary hotel bottles you've been saving. And while you're at it, give every bathroom in the house a nice cleaning too. You never know when your guests will pop into a bathroom other than the one that you've planned for!

Day 5: Prepare the Sleeping Arrangements

It is always best to figure our where everyone is going to sleep before your guests arrive. If your cousin will be sleeping in your daughter's bedroom, make sure she is aware so there is no discussion about it in front of your guest! Wash linens and have them ready for use. Gather extra towels and put them in a place where your guests will easily be able to find them. Make some room for your guests to store their belongings. If they are going to sleep in a spare room or even one of your children's rooms, make sure there is a bit of space in the closet for them to hang their clothing, a space on the floor to house their suitcases, and some room on the dresser for your guests to place items from their pockets.

Day 6: Make a Game Plan for Their Visit

Are you going to be cooking? Then take some time to plan the menus and do the grocery shopping. If you'll be dining out, make the reservations. And keep in mind any special dietary considerations that your guests may have. Plan some fun activities to do with your guests before they arrive. And be sure that you have cleared your schedule of appointments that would get in the way of spending time with your company.

Day 7: Add the Finishing Touches

A scented candle here, an extra pillow there. Do they enjoy a cup of coffee or tea in the morning? If so, be sure to have supplies on hand. Add a bottle of water next to the bed where each guest will be sleeping. Now it's time to relax a little — because you are all ready!

Most of all, remember to have fun and enjoy your holiday company!

This post was included in the Carnival of Everything Home.

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