As the weather gets cooler, the estate is filled with both tangible evidence and intangible anticipation of the fall and winter season’s festivities. Even our equestrian family senses increased enthusiastic activity as preparation is underway. Autumn decorations come out of storage, and one of the bonuses of being a house manager is that one can choose which embellishments to use and where they can go. I feel like a theater director in a way, because I can “set the stage” for holiday celebrations and events. From the corn husk swags and fall wreaths now adorning the entrance gate and fencing to the welcoming giant eucalyptus grapevine wreaths on each of the double front doors of the main house, one is inspired to savor this special time of year.
The more fun aspects of highlighting a season include designing and sending out invitations to various events, guest lists, RSVP’s, and seating charts. But, whether the estate is hosting a grand ball, various cocktail parties, or formal dinners, one fundamental aspect never changes: Creating a spotless venue. Even though cleaning may not be one of the more glamorous tasks for a luxury home, it is one of the most necessary.
From the moment you start pulling things out of storage and placing orders, cleaning tasks need to be scheduled. There is often a lot of rearranging of furnishings and swapping out seasonal textiles, which makes this a perfect time to clean behind and under, and make sure things are in their best shape before packing away for next season.
Here are some tips for cleaning that you can apply to your holiday plans as well as year-round:
- Establish cleaning goals for each area of the main house, adding special holiday installations and directions for each zone.
- Set the division of labor for the staff and the timeline. We hire extra staff during this time to keep up with the additional workload.
- Select safe and appropriate cleaning products and have all supplies available in each HK caddy *Some products may contain bleach, acid, or other ingredients harmful to your staff and your decor. Keep in mind that you may not see immediate damage, but delicate holiday items passed down for generations need to be cleaned with the most gentle methods and left with no chemical residues.
- Clean from high to low. Just as you would in your regular routine, clean your holiday decor from top to bottom. There tends to be a lot of sparkly and glittery stuff this time of year and it needs to be contained.
- Clean as it happens. I cannot stress this enough. Spills and stains are much easier to clean up immediately after they appear. Waiting until the next day or later will make the task much harder. As an example, almost all clothing or carpet stains are easier to get out before they have had time to set. Likewise any marks left on furniture from glasses should be addressed immediately to prevent long-term damage. You’ll also want to clean everything carefully after use and before it is stored again. Send textiles to be professionally cleaned and packed in acid free tissues.
For an Estate Manager, organization and planning can make all the difference in successful holiday hosting. You can’t control all aspects of an event, but you can strive to provide an enjoyable, clean, stress-free environment to celebrate the season. Happy Holidays!