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Set Up in Advance

Start by setting the table a day or so early. Use a bar cart to transport all of your dishes into the dining room and leave it there for quick removal of dirty dishes post-meal (just one trip each way!). While the utensils are out of the drawer, take that time to clean inside where crumbs have collected.

Put the utensil caddy in the top rack of the dishwasher (or wipe it down with a rag dipped in warm, soapy water), then use a lint roller to pick up crumbs. To access crumbs in the corner of the drawer, tear off a piece of the sticky paper and wrap it around a butter knife.

The 5 Best Holiday Cleaning Hacks

Baking dozens of cookies and buying everyone gifts is the fun part, but with every Christmas season, especially when you're hosting a party or housing guests, there are a bunch of cleaning tasks to tackle too, from handling detritus in the kitchen to picking up pine needles in the living room. Searching for quick and easy solutions for de-griming all those parts of the house? Look no further than these five genius suggestions from Real Simple editors and experts to make those holiday chores more manageable (and keep you from acting like the Grinch).

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You'll find it all right here: the most clever tricks for prepping the house for your guests' arrival, keeping it tidy while they are around, and cleaning up after all of the festivities have ended. There are solutions for preventing wasted time in the kitchen, ideas for speeding up the dining room set up, and answers for how to tackle the mess left in the holiday season's wake (so daunting!).

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By making just a few small adjustments to your normal holiday routine, you can save yourself a ton of time to actually enjoy the merriment and festivities without having to think about the impending cleanup. Find the pros' top picks for the sanity savers they use in their own lives to help manage the mess--from a collapsible storage bin for quick cleanups to a baking set that transfers easily from freezer to oven. Give yourself a break and incorporate these hacks before the holiday rush.