Christmas 08 003

Written by Emily McClements, Contributing Writer

The holidays are in full swing, and along with holidays usually come guests.  It is a blessing to host others in our homes, whether for a week night family dinner, weekend party, or small group Bible study, but sometimes the preparation for guests can become stressful or overwhelming.

We get the feeling that we need to have the house perfectly clean and put together before our guests arrive, or we find out that company is coming over on short notice, and we look around our house and think, “Uh-oh.”

I’ll be the first to admit that my house pretty much never looks perfect, and is not company ready all of the time.  As we talked about last month, I strive to maintain my home on a day to day basis, but that still often falls short of how I would ideally like my home to look if others are coming to visit.

We host a small group for our church at our home every week, and often have friends over for dinner.  I used to get really stressed and spend most of the day cleaning to get ready to welcome our guests.

Those days became such a source of stress to me as I strove to make my home perfectly presentable.  Instead of focusing on serving others by welcoming them into my home, I became frustrated that I had to work so hard every time we were having people over and came to dread those days. I knew I needed to have an attitude adjustment, as well as an adjustment in the way that I prepared for having guests in our home.

I do want my home to look nice, and be comfortable and inviting.  But, on the other hand, I don’t like the idea of cleaning all day (or for multiple days) just so I can feel like my house is perfectly ready for guests.  I think it is important to be able to spontaneously invite friends or family over, despite the condition of my home.

So, I developed a room by room plan for quickly getting our home ready to have guests.  And this works for me whether we’re hosting 10 adults and 12 children for small group, or one other family for dinner.  I can make my home presentable and inviting in a short amount of time, following these simple steps for each room.

Dinner party with Synne and Mike
Photo by Elin B

Getting Your Home Ready for Guests, Room by Room

In the Kitchen

Main focus – Clear Dishes and Counters

  • Clear dishes from counters and sink.  Fill your dishwasher and run it to get dirty dishes off the counter. Or wash as many dishes by hand as you can.

* If you’re really short on time and don’t need to use your oven, you can put dirty dishes in the oven to clear off your counters – just don’t forget about them later!

  • Clear counters as much as possible and wipe them down.
  • Quickly sweep the floor, if necessary, but also remember that it will probably just be getting dirty again, so it may not really be worth it.

In the Dining Room

Main focus- Clear Off Surfaces and Tidy Up

  • Clear off table and other surfaces of any clutter.
  • Quickly sweep the floor if necessary.
  • Set the table, if you are having dinner guests, so that it is ready and looks inviting.
Living Room Photo by Emily McClements of Live Renewed

In the Living Room

Main Focus – Pick up and tidy, clear off surfaces.

  • Clear off coffee tables and end tables.
  • Pick up toys and any other clutter
  • Sweep or vacuum the main area of the floor.

In the Bathroom

Main Focus – Clean Up Quickly Without Using Cleaning Products

  • Scrub toilet bowl and wipe down toilet seat, just using water
  • Use your hand to splash water around and rinse down the sink
  • Use a microfiber cloth and water to wipe the mirror and any other surfaces that need wiping down.

In the Bedroom

Main Focus – Tidy Up

  • Make the bed.
  • Put dirty clothes into the hamper.

Around the House – The Main Things

  • A tidy/uncluttered home looks clean (even if it really isn’t – shhh!) So put stuff away, clear off tables and other surfaces, and pick things up off the floor.
  • Open your curtains or your blinds to let natural light in (if it’s daytime).  Open windows make rooms look bigger, brighter and more inviting.
  • Light a few candles or turn on soft music to set a relaxing, welcoming mood.

For me, it has been really important to learn to let go of perfectionism, and lower my expectations. The truth is, that usually when you have guests, the house gets messy while the are visiting, whether kids playing with toys, crumbs on the floor, or dishes in the sink. So, I do as much on my list as I can, and I am okay leaving the rest undone.

While it is important, as we’ve talked about, to have a presentable and inviting home, it doesn’t have to be perfect, because chances are it will get messed up pretty quickly, and you’re just going to have to clean it all up again later.  So focus on being a good hostess and enjoying your guests, not having a perfectly clean house. You will be happier and less stressed and your guests will probably enjoy themselves more too!

Open your home to guests this holiday season, but don’t get overwhelmed or stressed by the preparations!

How do you quickly prepare your home for company?  Any special things you do to make your home feel more welcoming and inviting?

Top Photo by Abigail Batchelder