Wednesday, May 10, 2017

How to (Quickly) Prep Your Home For Company

Well last week I gave you a list of some things I think make great housewarming or hostess gifts, so this week I thought I'd flip that and give you some quick tips if you're the one hosting the party rather than attending.  In particular, tips on how to prep your home if you didn't get a ton of notice that guests will be stopping by but you'd still like to graciously receive them.

Getting your home ready when time is an issue is all about prioritizing and managing expectations.  If you only have 15 minutes notice, your time and effort is best spent in the areas where your guests will actually be, rather than trying to make sure your bed is perfectly made.  I suggest the following, and in the order listed for maximum benefit in the shortest amount of time:

Clean the Rooms You'll Host In.  If you had an event planned, you probably already cleaned up your home - particularly if you're hosting a housewarming where everyone will want to see the entire space.  But if you don't have a ton of notice that guests are coming, then concentrate your tidying efforts to just the areas you'll be hosting in, likely a living room or sitting area.  Pick up any clutter items that don't belong and put them away.  Straighten the decor items that are left, including pillows and throw blankets.  Use an all purpose spray to wipe any tables and surfaces you're likely to use.  And ignore the rest of the spaces that won't get entered.  Yes, that means you can leave your bed unmade and clothes on the floor and just... shut the door.  Glorious.

Clean the Bathroom.  The bathroom is the one room, besides the main area in which you plan on hosting your guests, that you can really be assured is going to get used.  It's also the one room where a mess is really going to be noticed and feel gross to your visitor.  I regularly clean our bathrooms but if I know someone is coming over, I make sure to go over the bathrooms again before the guest arrives.  It won't take long: remove all clutter from the counter tops and use an all purpose spray and wipe down the counters, sink, mirror, and toilet.  Also give the toilet a quick scrub.  Put out a fresh towel for guests to dry their hands on and make sure an extra roll of toilet paper is easy to find.  If the trash needs to be taken out, don't forget to do that.  None of these steps are going to take you very long but they go a very long way in ensuring your guest feels comfortable.

Clean the Kitchen.  Most guests will wander into the kitchen as well, particularly if you're offering drinks or snacks.  And a dirty kitchen will make them not want to accept anything you offer.  Make sure there are no dishes on the counters or in the sink and then wipe down all the counters.  I also like to take an extra minute to wipe the fronts of our appliances so you don't see any fingerprints, and I clean up the stove top.  Put a clean dish towel out or make sure the paper towels are easily located.  Lastly, take the trash out.

Light the Space.  Whether that's opening the blinds or turning on some more lighting, you need to make sure your home is well lit.  Your guests aren't as comfortable in your home as you and lighting is both inviting and helpful to finding their way around.

Make It Smell Good.  If your home is clean, it's not going to smell bad.  But going the extra mile to make it have a nice scent is a welcoming touch.  Personally, I light one of my candles, which honestly are pretty much always burning.  You could also use essential oils or even have something baking in the oven.  An even easier way than baking is to simmer things that smell good in water on the stove and create your own unique home scent.  It's natural, and it's what Williams Sonoma does.

Pull Out Available Drinks and Snacks.  It's always a nice gesture to offer your guests something, even if you didn't have more than a few minutes notice they were stopping by.  Check your fridge and pantry for any supplies you might have.  I pull out the cups and supplies to be able to quickly offer water, tea, or coffee, because your guest will feel like they're putting you out if it takes you awhile to find these things while they stand there awkwardly.  We usually have some type of snack foods available that are quick and easy to serve, like nuts, pretzels, crackers and cheese, or cookies.  They're part of my well stocked bar cart - I don't like clutter but I do like keeping snacks on hand!

Doing everything on this list won't take you much time at all, just 15 or 20 minutes.  But they make a huge difference in making your guest feel welcome.  Plus you get to feel all put together and adult-y, which we all love.  What else would you add to the list?  What makes you feel welcome when you visit someone else's home?

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