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preparing your home for the holidays

Mandi of Life... Your Way and I have teamed up to bring you a special series over the next two weeks called Preparing Your Home for the Holidays.

I've mentioned several times over the past month that I do not want this to be a last-minute Christmas for us, so we're getting proactive this year in all areas, including getting our home ready for holiday guests room by room. An expert in decluttering, today Mandi's helping me take my living room from playroom to more of a family-friendly gathering area.

Unfortunately I don't have any before photos because my dear husband decided to get started without me (not complaining at. all.), but I can share with you our major issues:

  • Video game equipment was out of control and scattered throughout the space.
  • We had little storage space which meant toys were often piled around the perimeter.
  • Our couch has seen better days, but we're not ready to purchase a new one.
  • I've neglected some of the deep cleaning over the past few months when our kids were heavily into sports.

:: Corralling the Clutter

Kids and clutter just seem to go hand-in-hand, don't they? And when you have five kids...well, that's five times the clutter, and our living room seems to bear the brunt of it.

I'm sure you've heard this before, but baskets are an easy and relatively inexpensive way to contain clutter. I picked up two of these huge baskets at Target last year at half price because they were part of the holiday clearance. It turned out that they're perfect for holding all of our video game equipment on either side of our entertainment center.

:: Giving the Toys A Home

Toys are my nemesis. They're scattered throughout our house, and it seems nearly impossible to find a home for all of them. We're working on a more permanent play area for the kids to stretch our living space, but in the meantime I found an awesome solution at IKEA.

Again, baskets are my friend here. They're the perfect size for the toys my kids play with most, and they're easily accessible in the shelf. All together, the shelf and baskets were priced at under $150 -- well worth it for me to maintain my sanity.

:: Making Do With What You Have

Our poor couch... It was a beautiful couch when we purchased it at 80% off from the seconds store of a major furniture retailer 11 years ago. It had one very small scratch on the leather that was barely noticeable with the light cream color. Fast forward through two dogs and five kids, and this is the end result:

Gosh, I'm so embarrassed to show you that! I often think about how nice it would be to just go out and get a new couch, but it's still solid (and we still have two dogs and five young kids), so we opted to purchase an inexpensive slipcover from Walmart.

No, it's not perfect, but it's certainly prettier and it will do for now.

We also refinished this beautiful cedar chest that belonged to my husband's grandmother. It's now our coffee table, as well as additional storage space. We keep lots of throws crocheted by my mother-in-law in it for those chilly winter days ahead.

:: Getting the Grime Out

I've been a bit of a slacker the past few months when it comes to deep cleaning. We were running six days a week for sports, so something had to give. So today I whipped out my favorite deep cleaning assistant -- a simple microfiber cloth. A package of these costs next to nothing, lasts forever, and is a very versatile cleaning tool.

I used it dry to surface dust everything and to brush the dust that accumulates on the lampshades off. Then I used it damp to wipe down our leather chair, ottoman, and all of the baseboards (a task that I often forget about).

I took our throw pillows outside for a shake and left them to air out while I was cleaning, and I wiped down all of the glass tables and windows with my favorite Method Mint spray glass cleaner.

Now my living room is clean and sparkling! You've noticed that we don't have a lot of knick-knacks. We tend to keep them to a minimum for the most part with the kids, and I also removed a few things to make room for our holiday decorations later this month.

You can join us in Preparing Your Home For The Holidays over the next couple of weeks by using the handy printable checklists that Mandi has created for each room of the house! And of course we'd love to hear your tips and tricks for getting your home ready for the holiday season.