“We’re going to be in the neighborhood and thought we’d drop by” are words that strike panic in the hearts of many us. “Nooooooo!” we cry inwardly as we survey our cluttered counters and toy-littered floors and dusty tabletops.
Our blood pressure rises and we start to hyperventilate as we realize we cannot possibly clean to perfection before the doorbell rings. But cover our tracks – that we can do. Here are a few tried but true tricks to making a house look tidy enough to get by when guests are welcome but completely unexpected:
1. Pile it up. Scoop the toys into a pile or basket – any corner or container where they can be corralled in as little space as possible. Not only will that make the space look cleaner but eliminate any potential lawsuit from a sprained ankle.
2. Hide it. Sweep everything on the kitchen counters into the drawers or cabinets directly underneath. That way you can just open them all back up after you say your good-byes, without having to remember where you stashed the goods. (There’s nothing like spending two hours after they leave trying to find what you hid!) If the dining room table is a catchall, move what you can to the chair seats. Just don’t let anyone pull out the chair and sit down.
3. Make space. If there’s room, put dishes in the dishwasher and clean the sink. So your dishwasher is full? Plan B: stick all dirty dishes in the sink and clean the counter tops. That way, at least one thing in your kitchen will sparkle!
4. Bathrooms! Follow the hiding/sink wiping technique for one bathroom just in case your guests need to pay a visit. Lock the doors of all the rest of the baths; you can get out the hairpin lock pick when they leave.
5. Shut it up. Close doors to rooms (closets and cabinets, too) that are visible from the entryway and the spaces you’ll be using with your guests. Again, hiding always works!
6. Light a candle. Only one, you don’t want to burn the house down in your panic. The smell will spell cozy, not messy. If it’s evening, dim the lights or minimize the number you use.
7. Shake out the front door mat. (Do this early so you’re not caught in the act!) Psychologically, cleanliness by the front door implies cleanliness inside.
It only takes a few minutes to pull this off. Your panic will subside and you will impress even the most fastidious friend or neighbor!