Create a master task list — To get this list started, I suggest having a brain storming session. For 15 minutes, write down everything you think you need to do prior to your event. The items on this list could include: meal planning, grocery shopping, organizing and de-cluttering the house, cleaning, gift shopping, and don’t forget to add any tasks related to getting your home ready for overnight guests!
Create a checklist — Now that you have a list, it’s time to prioritize the list and put some dates behind each task. To create deadlines, take a look at your calendar and decide when the meal planning needs to be done, and when the grocery shopping needs to be completed. Start planning to get these tasks done by the deadline, and ensure you have the food you need when you need it on a list that is easily available to you.
Here is an example of a sample checklist to prepare for the big party.
Week of December 9 (Start as soon as you read this!)
- Plan Your Menu — consider both the big celebration meals and other meals and snacks needed for the holidays.
- Create a grocery list based around your planned menu; be on the lookout for coupons.
- Order speciality foods (turkey, ham, other) right away.
- Schedule your baking/cooking days — cooking on the calendar keeps you from procrastinating; the better you plan, the less you stress!
- De-clutter your home — go room-to-room and donate, recycle, and let go of items you no longer need or want. Get your family involved and make sure to focus on common areas.
- Clean and organize the linen closet especially if guests will be using it.
- Clean and organize your coat closet — this is smart if you have out of town guests but also for parties and unexpected guests.
- Decorate! But do it after you have de-cluttered. Make space for decorations and remember: there is beauty in simplicity!
Week of December 16
- Do any home repairs — remember child-proofing for guests if needed.
- Get the guest room and bathroom ready — you'll do a final review as it gets closer to guests arriving.
- Make sure the closet has space for guest luggage and clothes; include extra hangers, just in case.
- Make the guest bed(s) with fresh linens and extra blankets.
- Prepare the bathroom with plenty of towels and a basket in the bathroom for extra toiletries like soap, toothpaste, and shampoo.
- Stock up on toilet paper and make it easy to find so guests won't have to ask for it.
- Organize your pantry and clean out your refrigerator. Do this before you do your grocery shopping and cooking — it will make things easier to put away and to find what you need later.
- Double-check your grocery list and go shopping!
- Gather and wash special flatware — any plates, bowls, holiday china, serving utensils and have them easily accessible.
- Do your deep cleaning — you’ll do a basic cleaning right before the party and guests arrive, but this deep cleaning can include the hard scrubbing and dusting of the rooms most used.
Week of December 23
- Do any additional cleaning or tidying-up — may include vacuuming and mopping floors, quick clutter clean-up, and making sure things are placed back in their homes. Make sure the guest room and bathroom are cleaned and stocked.
- Do any additional grocery shopping, particularly for any items that you’ll need to buy fresh.
- Do any additional pre-baking and cooking.
- Empty all trash cans.
- Double-check this list — make sure you didn't forget anything.
- Don't be afraid to delegate or ask for help if you need it!
- Sit back and enjoy your company — now that all the prep work is done!