I often begin one of my seminars by asking: What if the phone rings and a dear pal from your far distant past is on the other end, an hour away between planes, and just dying “to stop by for a quick visit”? What would you do and is your home “visitor ready” at all times? Most of us would chuckle at that one.
Here are some of the answers I've gotten over the years about places people would “hide” their stuff from soon to arrive unexpected company.
- “I’d dump it in the front hall closet, if I knew it was too hot to wear a coat.”
- “I’d throw it down the basement steps.”
- “I’d stick it in the bath tub.”
- “Under the bed”
- “In the oven”
In the oven??? Clearly – they’re not planning on serving dinner to their guests.
But what do you do to relieve the stress of drop in visitors, summer or winter? Obviously, if you were “mostly clutter free,” it wouldn't be too difficult to do a quick once over. Oh – there’s that mostly clutter free. More of us are mastering that skill with understanding of why it’s so important – even if you’re not into Feng Shui (that famous Chinese dish that should be on everyone’s menu). Common sense tells us it’s just plain better, healthier and easier to live in an organized, uncluttered, dust free environment. Though it might be hard work to get it that way, the end result is worth it. However, even if your have your house under control, you still have to live in it. But day to day living “stuff” is different. It’s the kind you can get a handle on in an hour before unexpected company knocks on your door.
Here's The Quick Plan When Unexpected Guests Are Coming
- So, there’s damp towels in the bathroom and yesterday’s underwear and socks, as well as the toothpaste, make-up and brush on the counter. It takes less than two minutes to put the dirty clothes (including the hamper stuff) into the washer and store your personal things in their designated places.
- Another 3 minutes to make the bed and hang up yesterday’s outfit or put it in the trunk of your car to go to the cleaners. The trunk! What a great place for clutterers to hide their stuff! Just back the car halfway into the garage…No – No! Just kidding.
- Ten minutes to vacuum or dry mop.
- Five minutes to clean off kitchen counter surfaces.
- Five minutes to top dust in main areas.
- Five minutes to check the powder room for fresh towels, bathroom spray, and to clean the sink and bowl.
- Five minutes to empty all waste baskets and garbage pails and take them to an outside pail.
- Five more minutes to put something in the oven, like frozen cookies, not whatever you dumped from the counter, and put up a pot of coffee. (Nothing smells better when guests arrive).
- Then a quick shower. Don’t forget to stick the towels in the washer, take a deep breath and get ready to open the door with a smile and enjoy your company.
Here's The Plan When Expected Guests Are Coming
So you know they’re coming – it’s been planned for months and you’re still not ready for the arrival of your favorite cousins. The countdown clock is ticking and in a couple of weeks they’ll be knocking at your door. It’s not hopeless, yet, so here are a few things you can do and some you can’t. Don’t expect a new kitchen, bathroom or custom anything, and if you need store bought furniture, it better be floor samples or don’t count on it arriving on time.
Be realistic about the time you have to make things happen, both in your home in general, as well as in the guest quarters. Then plan for some glitches in your schedule so you don’t get caught short.
Here are some general things you can do in a week or two if you’re ambitious:
- Give a room or rooms a different look by purchasing an area rug (which can be put over broadloom as well as hard surface floors). Various sizes can create different effects, from focal points under seating areas, to major coverage which can conceal a sad old floor or carpeting.
- Try re-arranging the furniture. Throw out what’s worn, torn or broken and what can’t be replaced at the present, cover with ready-made throws or slipcovers.
- A fresh coat of paint does wonders for a room. Get help if you can’t do it yourself, or barter it.
- Select a new color for the walls – preferably one from the area rug.
- Take a whirl around your local “bargain” shops and seek out new pillows, throws, pottery, accessories, or art work.
- Find a “bed in a bag” for a quick bedroom re-do, or a lovely summer quilt, and ready-made draperies. It’s the easiest and quickest way to spruce up your bedroom and minimize your old furniture. Often there are co-coordinating bathroom accessories, as well.
- Your kitchen will be the hub of your family gatherings. Make sure your refrigerator is cleaned out, your pantry is stocked and organized, your “junk drawer” is contained and you have enough dishes, mugs, etc. for everyone. Maybe it’s time to throw out that old chipped set of dishes or pots and treat yourself to a new one. While you’re at it, how about some new place mats for the kitchen table?
Tips for the Guest Room and Bath:
- How about an inviting coverlet or some new pillows and sheet sets?
- Make sure the bedside table has a working lamp.
- Add some fresh flowers, a few books, perhaps a small T.V.
- Make sure you’ve emptied the closet or provided another place for their clothes.
- If it’s a multi-functional space, put your personal things away.
- Stock in a supply of clean towels and perhaps some purse size personal supplies for the bathroom.
- Does your shower curtain need washing or replacing? Try to eliminate the plastic kind since it’s difficult to clean the bacterial build up and opt for one that can be thrown in the washer and dryer.
If you’re the guest – make sure you’re invited back:
- Clean up your own mess and assist in general household chores.
- Pick up the tab occasionally on food shopping expenditures.
- Keep the noise level down on your T.V. and kids.
- Know when it’s time to go to bed.
- Be pleasant, thoughtful and appreciative.
- Send a gift or a thank-you note after your visit.
- Return the invitation.
To make entertaining less stressful, have on hand at all times: fresh fruit, nuts, cheese, wine and crackers, and treat yourself to the purchase of fresh flowers or weekly pick some from your own garden. Share your “last minute expected and unexpected guests” ideas with us too!