Company's coming! We don't know about you, but unexpected guests somehow never catch us when our home is spotless. But luckily we've cultivated a cadre of 007-grade products and techniques to make it look like we were expecting you (yes you, Mr. & Ms. "just stopping by") all along.
Assuming you have a few minutes of advance notice, here's some help:
• Ikea TRONES storage bins: These handy bastards deserve a prize for the multitude of things they can hide seamlessly on a moment's notice, from shoes to pet/kid toys to junk mail.
• Swiffer Sweeper: Ah, ubiquitous Swiffer. Give hard surfaces a pass with the dry cloths, and follow up with wet cloths in strategic areas — like the kitchen or bathroom — if there's time.
• Fridge Magnets: We always have little bits of paper, such as notes, numbers, and receipts, lying around. If this stuff can't be thrown away for whatever reason, post it on your fridge with a big, pretty (and strong) magnet to distract from the scrap itself. Sometimes the best hiding place is right in the open — just make sure it's nothing you wouldn't want your guests to peruse, drink in hand.
• Paperweights: Similar to the magnets, but for bigger stuff. Round up magazines, newspapers, books and correspondence and slap a big paperweight on top. It'll look like a deliberate tableau of industry and organization.
• PJ Pocket Pillow: If you're like us and the sole bathroom adjoins the bedroom, making up the bed becomes part of the hasty tidy job. Throw pajamas, head scarves, stuffed animals and the other sleep-time detritus into the pocket, pull the covers over the bed and throw the pillow on top with the others. Voila, magazine-spread bed.
• Votives: When all else fails, turn the lights down low and put some scentless votives on tables, sills and ledges. No one will think about what you're hiding in the soft, deep shadows.
What are your tricks?