by Susan Caplan McCarthy
“Hey, we’re in the area; mind if we stop by for bit?” You stare at your phone, wondering why your friend or cousin thinks you’d be up for spontaneous entertaining. “We won’t stay long.” Of course, you say, “See you soon!” with as much enthusiasm as you can muster. It’s not how long they’ll stay that’s your concern but what they’ll be walking into.
Or, maybe you invited a coworker over for an after-work chat, and they said yes. Oops, is the laundry still piled in the living room waiting to be folded? To buy some time, you ask them if they’d mind picking up a bottle of wine or a pint of ice cream before arriving.
So, how can you clean and tidying up the entire house when you have 15-to-30-minutes?
Prioritize Your Efforts
Obviously, you can’t clean and organize your entire home in a quarter of an hour. You can touch on a few areas that will make your home look welcoming. Start with the area that bothers you the most and then fit in other tasks as you can. And, remember, that your real goal is to enjoy time with your guests.
If you spend your time with your guest thinking about the mess (or, worse, pointing it out), you won’t have fun, and neither will your guests. Let’s face it, they know they are entering your home without you having much notice.
Travel Your Guest’s Path through Your House
Start with a quick walk-through your home, following the path your guests are likely to take. Is there space for them to hang their coats in the entryway? Will they linger in the kitchen or will you direct them right to the living room? Do you need to move stuff off the chairs and couch? And, you know they’ll need to use the bathroom.
Tidy Up Fast
Clean What’s Most Noticeable
Ignore These Tasks
Unless there is an obvious cobweb hanging in a corner, skip dusting anything beyond the dust-dulled coffee table you’ll be gathering around.
Don’t vacuum because if you try to vacuum quickly, you’ll just end up sweaty from your efforts. And, chances are, they’ll hear the vacuum when they ring the doorbell.
Don’t bother trying to clean the kids’ rooms. If there are other kids visiting, things will just end up pulled out anyway.
You Just Want Your Home to Seem Cleaner
Avoid apologizing for the mess, no matter how large or small. If you point out clutter, that’s where your guest’s eyes will go.
Chances are that you’ve cleaned your house in the past month, so remember that your goal is to do some last-minute cleaning in a few obvious locations so that your guests feel welcome.
What's one thing you do when guests drop by unexpected? Share in the comment section below.
Susan Caplan McCarthy
I'm a professional organizer-coach with 26 years' experience as a teacher. I believe that an organized home isn't your destination but a step on the path toward the life you want to create. I teach decluttering and organizing skills through articles; books; and speaking engagements; as well as virtual coaching sessions.