The phone rings. Someone wants to drop by. You’ve got 15 to 30 minutes. Yikes! You glance around. The house is not, shall we say, “company ready”. Where do you start?
Ready For Company in 5 Easy Steps!
1. Assess the situation.
Take a deep breath and assess the condition of your home and who is coming. If it’s your lifelong best friend who saw your childhood bedroom and held your hand during labor you might just want to take those 15 or 20 minutes to bake some muffins and brew a pot of tea. She won’t care what your house looks like.
On the other hand, if it’s your boss or the neighbor who trims the grass along the sidewalk with a pair of scissors you will probably want to at least take out the overflowing kitchen trash and move the clean laundry from the sofa.
What you don’t want to do is start organizing the linen closet (family joke – my mom used to do this sort of thing) if the sink is full of dishes. Think in terms of what is going to be most noticeable to your guest and start there.
2. Tackle the gross or embarrassing stuff first.
Does the litter box need to be scooped? Did someone put something stinky in the kitchen trash can? Was your husband alphabetizing his Justin Bieber record collection and left them all in the middle of the living room floor? Take care of those things next.
That is, unless your goal is to make your guest feel really good about her own housekeeping which is actually a rather kind thing to do. Many years ago, close friends invited us to drop by after church. Their son’s dirty underwear happened to be lying in the middle of the living room floor. Everyone had a good laugh over it and I honestly appreciated the fact that I would never again worry about the state of my house with those friends. It was a bonding experience. Ha!
3. Do a clutter sweep.
If you have children at home, this is where you get them involved. It’s probably their mess anyway. Give them a laundry basket and have them race through the house gathering up toys, socks, shoes, books…anything that is out of place or belongs in another room. Stow the basket in a room your guest won’t be in and shut the door. In fact, shut the doors to any rooms that are messy and you won’t need during your guest’s visit.
While your kids are doing the clutter sweep, you can be working on the kitchen. Now this is where I’m going to put in a plug for a return to separate kitchens with a door that closes. Open concept kitchen/living areas have been all the rage for years but my favorite house I ever lived in was the 1930s-era house with a large kitchen at the back of the house with doors that could be shut to the dining room and hallway.
But if your kitchen is open to the living room or family room where you’ll be entertaining your guest you’ll want to make sure dirty dishes are stowed away in the dishwasher or at least rinsed and stacked in the sink. Wipe the counters quickly with a hot, soapy rag on which you’ve sprinkled a few drops of lemon essential oil and sweep the floor if you have time.
4. Touch up the bathroom.
This is where The FlyLady’s daily “swish and swipe” routine will save you. If you’re in the habit of taking about 2 minutes each day to “swish” a little cleaner around the toilet bowl and give the sink, counter and mirror a quick “swipe” then your bathroom will stay presentable all the time. Pull the shower curtain across the tub, toss dirty towels in the hamper, make sure there is soap and toilet paper, and put out a clean hand towel.
In that final minute or two, fluff the sofa pillows, light a candle, turn on some music (hopefully not one of those Justin Bieber albums) and put on some lipstick. Then welcome your guest with a smile.