Sunset is fast approaching. The CD of Qur’anic recitation you hoped would serenade you until your guests arrived is on but is being drowned out by the sound of your children playing. And while you’ve purchased the dates, have plenty of water on deck and have your family’s traditional Ramadhan dish simmering on the stove, you’re still scurrying around the house picking up toys, tucking away papers and magazines, trying to get the house in order. Suddenly the doorbell rings! Iftar guests have arrived and you still haven’t got around to hiding those unsightly odds and ends!
For Muslims around the world, in addition to fasting and prayer, Ramadhan also means entertaining family and friends in our homes. If the above scenario seems remotely familiar, the following tips are just what you need to get your iftar entertaining in order and take the stress out of pre-iftar cleanup.
The early bird catches the worm
Get started on clean up 2-3 days before your iftar. This will allow you to pace yourself and avoid a last-minute frenzy. Use this time to finalise your table setting and décor and to make sure you have all the right ingredients, dishes and serving utensils you’ll need.
Focus your cleaning efforts on the spots that matter
Nothing makes a house look more uninviting than clutter. To get rid of the clutter, take an empty laundry basket into the rooms you know your guests will see, pick up things that don’t belong and toss them into the basket. Stash the basket in a closet or somewhere guests won’t look. Don’t forget to put away any precious items that might get broken.
Invest in smart storage alternatives
Decorative storage boxes, trunks, storage ottomans, and wicker baskets with lids are all great alternative solutions for quickly hiding away clutter. They are multifunctional, serving as both decorative elements in your space and allowing you to disguise everything from children’s action figures and crafts to magazines and mail.
Make it a family affair
Get your family involved in prep for the iftar. Enlist the help of your kids and spouse. Have your children to help plan activities to keep guests’ children entertained during the iftar. Ask your husband to help with preparing the space or activities for men attending the iftar.
Hide the dirty dishes
If you have dirty dishes in the kitchen sink, load them all into the dishwasher to get them out of sight. Guests are coming to break their fast and don’t really want to see all the work and dirty dishes that went into making your scrumptious meal.
Don’t forget those extra touches!
Preparing your home for an iftar is more than just removing clutter. Use this opportunity to add simple touches that make your home comfortable and inviting to guests. Fresh flowers or a favourite fragranced candle are just right for welcoming guests. Remember to spritz upholstered furniture with fabric refresher and fluff pillows too.
Tidy up the bathroom. Usually, the cleaner you make the bathroom ahead of time, the cleaner your guests will feel they have to leave it. So be sure to make it look nice and neat. Remove everything from the bathroom but the essentials, leaving only fresh soap, guest towels, extra toilet tissue and a small bouquet of fresh flowers.
Make empty bins visible
People won’t necessarily go hunting for a bin when they have a pile of plates and cups to dispose of. If they don’t know where you normally keep your rubbish bin, they’re not going to make much effort to find it. Make sure you leave just a few empty bins visible to guests. Otherwise, you’ll be picking up half eaten dates and rice in different areas of the house days later.
Make your home comfortable and welcoming for all guests
Before guests arrive, arrange the furniture as you’ll want it for the iftar. If men will be in one section of the home and women in another, make sure that guests can move easily from one part of your house to another to get to those designated areas. Depending on the amount of guests you’re expecting, figure out where your food, beverages, and desserts will go to avoid a traffic jam of guests. Also make sure that you have adequate seating and accommodation for all of the guests you’ve invited.
Children matter too
Be sure to consider all members of the families you’ve invited when planning your iftar. Having colouring books, finger foods, snacks and games available is key to keeping little ones entertained and this allows adult guests to relax and have the memorable time you’ve planned for them.
Saudah Saleem enjoys the challenge of creating a beautiful space on a budget. Using unexpected colour schemes, pairing new and vintage pieces, layering modern and traditional style, Saudah prides herself on her ability to effortlessly create beautiful spaces within any budget. She is passionate about interior design and has been featured on and consulted by MSN.com as an Interior Design expert. Her work has been recognized by fellow interior designers and featured in a selection of interior design publications in the U.S. View her portfolio, design inspiration and tips at www.saudahsaleem.com