As we're heading into the season of friendsgivings, cookie exchanges, and cocktail parties, let's remember that our friends and family are coming over to spend this special time with us, not to judge our homes. Even if we'd like everything to be "perfect," we only need to tackle a few issues to make our homes welcoming and inviting. So let's take the pressure of reaching perfection off the table, give our home a quick spruce up, and get excited about the fun of hosting.
Make sure the entryway or designated coat room (i.e., a bed) is clear and ready to store guests' outerwear.
You'll want to be ready to make guests feel comfortable from the get-go, which starts with having a designated space to put their coats and outerwear for easy retrieval when they leave.
Clean the bathroom and make sure it's stocked with hand soap, a hand towel, and bountiful toilet paper.
One of the more awkward experiences a guest can have is using the bathroom only to find there's no toilet paper (d'oh!). So after giving the bathroom a good cleaning, make sure the essentials are easily within reach.
Clean the kitchen and wipe down the stovetop and fridge (inside and out).
Guests will likely be dipping into the kitchen (or the entire party may wind up in there, which usually happens at my parties). Along with doing a standard cleaning, an extra wipe down of the refrigerator is always a good idea, since people may be fetching their own drinks or replenishments while visiting.
Clear clutter from the dining table or counters where food will be shared.
Remove any extra items that don't need to be there, since a clean and clear surface is the most welcoming for food and, logistically, allows for more space for serving and eating.
Dust and spiff surfaces in central living areas.
Fluffing up pillows, folding blankets, dusting knick knacks, all of these little things go a long way in terms of making rooms feel inviting.
Pick up random clutter and employ a "deal with it later" motto (i.e. stick it in a drawer if you need to).
This one goes out to all the kids' and pet toys, mail, and little odds and ends. Don't feel like you need to do a deep de-cluttering because you want to host people. Putting stuff away in a secure location for later sorting is perfectly fine.
Vacuum the floors around the sofa and coffee table, especially if food will be set out in this area.
Because I have pets (two shedding cats), I save this part for closest to the time of guest arrival—which means less time for new fur tumbleweeds to appear!
Give bookshelves & home decor a quick straightening.
It's amazing what a quick dusting and readjusting can do to get a bookshelf and home decor items back to ship shape.
Make your bed with clean sheets.
Hopefully guests won't be poking around in every room, so don't worry about deep cleaning bedrooms, but they may peak in or glance in passing, and a freshly made bed will make an entire bedroom look pulled together.
Add in a little somethin'-somethin'.
This is more of a sprucing tip than a cleaning tip, but alas, fresh flowers, a spray of greenery, candles, and nice lighting create a lovely ambience and help guests feel welcome.