How to keep your home tidy through the holidays

There are good holiday messes, like the piles of torn wrapping paper and bows on Christmas morning that are totally worth the clean-up. And there are other messes, unwelcome messes, that add to seasonal stresses and make us cry “bah humbug!” for the umpteenth time.

During the holidays, our homes are full of more. More people, more stuff, more food, more noises —just more. Which adds up to more clean-up and clutter, more frustration and a whole lot less time for fun.

But with a little planning, the right products and a touch of holiday magic, keeping your home tidy throughout the season can still be downright doable.

Person placing cookie cutouts on a baking sheet while a mess awaits in the background

Here are eight common holiday problems, matched with simple solutions to keep your days merry and bright:

1. Caked-on casserole dishes and pie plates overflowing the sink.

Solution: Go for the overnight soak. Most holiday parties end well into the evening, and no one wants to scrub dishes that late. Once you’ve loaded the dishwasher, it only takes about 30 seconds to fill the extra-messy bakeware with hot, soapy water. Just be sure to give yourself an extra 10 minutes in the morning to rinse them clean.

2. A steady stream of potluck-ready dishes and leftovers cycling through the refrigerator.

Solution: Clear out leftovers every three days. Most leftovers are only good for a few anyway. So this helps make more room in your fridge — and keep the old-food funk out. You wouldn’t want to store your fresh-baked pie next to the weeks-old turkey!

3. Fallen needles from the Christmas tree that somehow magically reappear every time you sweep them up.

Solution: You can’t avoid the shedding completely, but keeping your tree well-watered will help keep it in check; water it once a day. Be sure to set up your tree in a low-traffic area, so it won’t constantly be bumped by kids or grocery bags as you pile inside the door. And when you sweep up the dry needles, stash them as kindling for your fireplace!

4. Never-ending piles of dirty linens and damp towels from out-of-town guests.

Solution: Extra fragrance for your laundry. There’s nothing like the musty stench of damp towels and slept-in sheets when they start piling up. Beat the stink with your very own Scentsy Laundry arsenal. You not only get sparkling clean laundry, but also full-cycle fragrance that lasts.

5. Stacks of dry-clean-only party clothes that have no chance of making it to the cleaners until the second week of January.

Solution: Designate a dry-clean-only bin in the laundry room or an out-of-the-way closet. You won’t have to stare at the pile(s), and you’ll have it all together when it does come time for a drop-off.

6. All season: Too much trash for your typical once-a-week pickup.

Solution: Ask your garbage service to bring you an extra can for a month or two. The added cost is minimal, and once the season settles down, you can turn it back in.

7. Before Christmas: Towers of yet-to-be-given gifts that have no chance of fitting under the tree.

Solution: Use them throughout the house as holiday décor! Just be sure to use wrapping paper, ribbon and tags that complement your holiday style, then stack them anywhere there’s space. Your home will feel festive and fun!

8. After Christmas: Newly unwrapped clothes, toys, games and books that need to be stored.

Solution: Before you hang all those new clothes in the closet, take an hour to clear out what you never wear and head to a consignment shop. Before shoving new toys in bins, round up the stuff your kids never play with and fill a donation bin. Same for games, books, etc. A little more time invested up front means more time enjoying your gifts later! Take it one category at a time, and don’t beat yourself up if it doesn’t happen until the new year.

Remember: Your home is going to feel bare when you take down all the holiday trimmings in January, and empty when the last of your relatives have gone. So be sure to embrace the spirit of the season — even if it feels cluttered or crowded at times. You’re not just making messes, you’re making memories!

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