Christmas is a good time both to spring clean and to reappraise your non-Christmas décor:
- If you’re going to be hanging tinsel from your picture rail, it’s an excellent idea to dust it down first.
- If you’re looking for a convenient time to wash curtains and cushions and throws, December often brings some excellent drying days.
- If you will be putting reindeer on your coffee table and cards on your mantelpiece, do pack away whatever non-Christmas decorator items you normally have there and wash them before you box them.
So if you’re in control of the festive mayhem and can schedule cleaning time into your calendar, you may want to consider doing more than just a frantic swipe and tidy before your guests arrive: you might want to adopt a program of summer cleaning.
Murray’s lunchtime chocolate cake went well and our colleagues drew up a wish list of gateaux on the whiteboard for him to work his way through but I think he knows enough about cakes now to tackle new recipes at home. (I’ll let him break that news to them himself: the staff of Watson and Smythe take cake very seriously indeed and I am expecting a deluge of disappointment.)
 There are, of course, many people who have pristine picture rails that are dusted frequently but I am not one of them and to have at least one time in the year that makes me think “I really should dust those picture rails” does me good.
 Although this is not completely reliable in Melbourne, unlike in the Mallee where I remember hanging out a load of washing on a December day with a hot North wind and, hand on heart, the first shirt was almost dry when I’d hung the last pillowcase up.
 I was sometimes given this task in my mother’s house and always wanted to break the truly awful ceramic donkey she kept on the windowsill in the lounge room. I managed to resist the temptation and later found out that it had been given to her by an admirer but I still don’t understand why she had a soft spot for a man with such abysmal taste in ceramic donkeys.
 And when you bring them out again in January, you might decide that you can live without some of them which will be one small advance in the war against clutter.