5 ways a housekeeper can help with your holiday to-do list

Oct. 22, 2020

Is your holiday to-do list so long that it will take you until February to complete? Instead of stressing about everything that has to get done, hire a housekeeper or ask your current one to take some of the weight off of your shoulders.

"A housekeeper is really supposed to be trained in doing everything that pertains to cleaning," household management expert Marta Perrone explains. That includes holiday cleaning jobs.

There are plenty of seasonal tasks a housekeeper can handle, so we consulted Perrone, Lisa Johnson, a cleaning service owner in Phoenix, and Ginny Underwood, a professional organizer in Hilton Head, South Carolina, for more information on how a housekeeper can help with the holidays.

1. Decoration prep (and later, cleanup)

Asking a housekeeper to be your holiday decorator can be an unreasonable request. "Not every housekeeper has the capability of doing that. That's an art, not a natural part of training for being a housekeeper," says Perrone.

However, getting the decorations out of storage, unwrapping them, dusting/cleaning them and then packing them away after the season, are areas where a housekeeper can help out. Every home can use a good cleaning before holiday decorations go up and after they come down.

2. Give the kitchen special attention

The kitchen is the center of holiday preparations, so it could use extra attention in the days leading up to the big celebration. Johnson suggests asking a housekeeper to clean the inside of the refrigerator, freezer and oven, wipe down the tops of cabinets and sweep under the stove and the refrigerator.

In addition to organizing the pantry, Underwood suggests asking if the housekeeper is open to assisting with holiday food preparation that can be done ahead of time, for example, sauces, stuffing, vegetable prep and baking.

3. Prepare the guest room

If you're expecting holiday company, housekeeper can help you get a room ready. This might involve clearing closet space, cleaning a mattress or laying out fresh linens. Underwood also recommends the housekeeper prepare the guest bathroom by stocking it with extra towels, toilet paper and travel-size products. During the visit, the housekeeper can freshen guest areas as needed.

4. Get the table ready

A housekeeper can also get the table ready for a fancy holiday dinner. "It might mean going through the cupboards, getting out the crystal and washing it," suggests Perrone. A housekeeper can also polish silverware, inventory candles, iron tablecloths, fold napkins, wash serving trays and arrange place settings.

5. Maintain a festive look

Talk to your housekeeper about some additional holiday chores to keep an eye on:

  • Sweeping pine needles around the Christmas tree.
  • Watering the tree or any holiday plants like poinsettias.
  • Tidying the fireplace log pile.
  • Changing the bedding to holiday bedding.
  • Dusting the holiday card display.

Keep the chore list reasonable

Of course, there are some jobs you shouldn't ask your housekeeper to tackle.

Don't ask housekeepers to:

  • Move or rearrange heavy furniture.
  • Climbing high ladders.
  • Hanging holiday lights.

Ask — don't demand

Always ask if your housekeeper would mind helping out with these areas — don't demand extra chores.

Remember, housekeepers want to enjoy the season, too. If you're going to need additional help, mention it early. Johnson advises, "Planning ahead always helps, so the housekeepers can reserve the extra time for the tasks."

Pay extra for extra work

And if you're asking for extra help, don't forget to pay more for that work. If you're working with a new housekeeper or not sure of your housekeeper's rates for certain tasks, make sure to ask in advance. 

Plus, if you have a housekeeper you work with regularly, don't forget a holiday bonus, says Perrone. "That means a lot to them." 

Your holiday to-do list might feel unending, but with the help of a housekeeper, you'll tackle it in plenty of time to enjoy a relaxing cup of eggnog by the fire with the ones you love.

Tips and stories from parents and caregivers who’ve been there.

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