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6 Ways to Spiff up Your House for Holiday Entertaining

Stock up on cleaning supplies and make room in the refrigerator

Published: December 10, 2015 08:00 AM

With just two weeks to go, time to get the house ready for the holidays is growing short. Now’s a good time to take inventory of your pantry and make room in the refrigerator for the food you’re planning to buy and prepare. Make sure the guest rooms are ready before moving on to the areas of the house where you’ll be entertaining. And stock up on enough cleaning supplies to handle the inevitable messes. Here’s the drill:

Deep-clean high-traffic areas

Break rooms down into smaller parts, tackling a chore or two each day, so it’s not so daunting. Dust furniture, woodwork, pictures, and mirrors one day; vacuum curtains and upholstery another; clean kitchen range burners and wipe down all the surfaces next, and so on.

Reorganize the refrigerator

Toss down-to-the-dregs condiments and any item with a sell-by date that has come and gone. That will make room in your refrigerator for ingredients and make-ahead dishes. It’s also a good time to wipe shelves and drawers with a damp sponge dipped in a solution of ¼ cup baking soda mixed with 1 quart of water. And clean the refrigerator door seal; dirt can weaken its ability to hold in cold air. (Find out how to organize your fridge for better health.)

Clean your oven

Remove loose debris coating the oven cavity before starting the self-cleaning cycle. Check your manual for self-cleaning tips, but typically the advice you’ll find says that you should remove racks from the oven before pushing the self-clean button. The process can discolor racks and make them harder to glide. If that’s already happened, apply a little vegetable oil to the sides.

Check Consumer Reports' 2015 Holiday Guide for our picks of the best gifts, details on the latest deals, time-saving tips, and much more. And see our countdown calendar for top gift ideas for everyone on your list.

CDN ProAccurate TCT572

Pick up a meat thermometer

It’s the best way to tell whether your roast is cooked to a safe internal temperature recommended by the Department of Agriculture. For turkey, poke it in the innermost part of the thigh, the wing, and the thickest part of the breast. The CDN ProAccurate TCT572, $80, topped our meat thermometer tests of more than 20 instant read digital models, combining excellent temperature accuracy and consistency.

Stock up on top-notch cleaning supplies

Running out of dishwasher detergent with a table full of dirty dishes after a holiday feast can be a real bummer. Single-use packs allow you to see how many loads are left, and Cascade Complete ActionPacs did the best job overall on messy pots and dishes in our dishwasher detergent tests. Bounty DuraTowel won the top spot in our paper towel tests.

Plan ahead for spills and stains

Make sure you have dishwashing liquid, nail-polish remover, and hydrogen peroxide on hand. And prepare a detergent solution by mixing one teaspoon of a mild clear or white dishwashing liquid—no bleach—in one cup of warm water. For a vinegar solution, mix one-third cup of white vinegar with two-thirds cup of water. Check our complete stain removal guide for when and where to use each cleaning product.

—Adapted from ShopSmart

Holiday Planning & Shopping Guide

Check Consumer Reports' 2015 Holiday Guide for our picks of the best gifts, details on the latest deals, time-saving tips, and much more. And see our countdown calendar for top gift ideas for everyone on your list.

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