Get Organized to Welcome Unexpected Guests

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The following post is from LifeasMOM contributor, Prerna:

We’ve all had those moments. Doorbell rings, we open the door, only to be faced with a totally unexpected guest or guests, yelling, “Surprise!” And while you stand there with the goofy smile, your thoughts race to the living room that is a disaster, the bathroom that’s been flooded by the kids and the bedrooms that look like… well, let’s just leave that at that. Yes, we’ve all had those moments.

Let’s not have them again. Here are some simple and easy ways to stay organized for unexpected guests:

Do a Regular Pick Up

I cannot stress this enough. Have a regular routine for picking up the house and clearing away the clutter. At our home, it is usually in the evening or night, that we keep away toys, remove dishes, glasses or cups from the table, straighten out the living room. I wake up early in the morning and walking into a living room relatively free of toys and general clutter just makes my day a bit brighter. Plus, I don’t have to stress out about picking up and cleaning up right at the start of the day. So, even, if someone rings the doorbell at 7 AM, I have a reasonably presentable living room to show them into.

Raid the Fridge or Freezer to Feed an Unexpected Guest

Unexpected guests at mealtimes may send you into a tizzy. After all, you’ve just made enough for the three or four of you. So, be smart. Instead of ordering out and running up a big bill for takeaway food, simply look in the fridge or freezer. See what you can add to the existing meal to make it more sumptuous. Plain bread can be turned into garlic bread to pair with spaghetti. Add a serving of some soup from the freezer. Toss in some shredded leftover roast chicken along with some greens and a bottled dressing and voila, you have a lovely meal easily.

Have the Basics in Place

I have a simple hostess essentials’ kit and an overnight guests’ kit, a set of clean bed and bath linen, always ready and waiting. This ensures that I always have snacks to serve and a spare toothbrush to hand out to an unexpected guest and clean linen for a comfortable night’s sleep.

More Ways to Prepare for Unexpected Guests

One of the best ways to get organized for the unexpected guest is to well, prepare for them. Besides clearing away clutter the night before and having your basic entertaining supplies in place, here are a few ways to prepare for sudden visits from friends and family:

  • Take a shower and get dressed first thing in the morning. Jessica’s made getting ready in the morning an easy-peasy activity.
  • Give the bathroom a quick clean while you wait for the conditioner to work its way in. Wipe down the countertop. Spritz the mirror, the faucet and the counter, wipe clean. Pour some toilet cleaner or in my case, vinegar down the toilet bowl and swish clean. Rinse off the conditioner. Wipe the floor dry. Put the towels out to air dry.
  • Put things back from where you get them. Encourage family members, including toddlers, to do the same. My daughter knows that the remotes go into the bedside table drawer and will even, remind us should we forget to put them back. This really helps keep clutter under control. **laughing**
  • Clean as you go. I’ve recently started doing this to cope with a hectic home and work schedule. I just clean surfaces I find are looking dusty, grimy or cluttered. So, no deep cleaning. I just grab a cloth and clean up as I work around the kitchen or listen to music in the living room.

You don’t have to have a magazine-style clean house to welcome guests. Reasonably neat works wonders. With just a bit of organizing and preparation, you’ll never have to wear the goofy grin around the next time the doorbell rings, you open the door and a friend or family member from out-of-town yells, “Surprise!”

How do you stay prepared and organized for unexpected guests?

Prerna Malik posing for the camera.— Prerna Malik is a mom, a wife, a writer and woman who believes in parenting with love, being postively productive, and creating a home that invites you to put your feet up and relax. Find her sharing her simple tips and easy-to-do ideas at The Mom Writes or follow her on Twitter.

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  1. Like you said, I think the most important thing is to always have clean sheets on your guest bed – or a set of sheets ready to go, if you don’t have a guest bed. I always change the sheets as soon as my guests leave so I’m ready for the next batch of company! It gives me time to do those quick pick-ups, too, since the beds are ready!

  2. “I wake up early in the morning and walking into a living room relatively free of toys and general clutter just makes my day a bit brighter. Plus, I don’t have to stress out about picking up and cleaning up right at the start of the day”

    THIS. Makes such a huge difference in my day. I’ve resigned myself to doing dishes in the morning after an evening I worked but other than that I try really hard to get every done before I go to bed. within reason, of course.

    With the exception of our bathrooms perhaps being slightly gross (the downstairs one because of the cat box which is not my jurisiction) I would consider our home almost always Company Ready. Depending on the time of day a drop in visitor might be confronted with toy scattered throughout the first floor but that’s just how life is in our house. 🙂 I’ve gotten to a point where I’m able to keep clutter under control and when toys are picked up the main living areas generally look very nice. With the small exception of dust but it’s not terrible and I’m pretty much over being embarrassed by small stuff. Our house is generally well cared for and organized so the tiny things out of place don’t phase me any more. We have two small children so anyone visiting our house needs to Get Over It as well. 🙂

    I do really like Ami Carr’s comment above. Good friends of ours never have us (or anyone else) over to their house because they’re embarrassed about their mess and clutter. The few times I’ve been over there it wasn’t as bad as they described but I know the condition of their home has a huge impact on their quality of life. It’s very sad, in my opinion.

  3. I have a 15 min cleaning session with my kids each morning before school. (beds, bathroom, and kitchen) I clean throughout the day and at night we have a 30 minute clean down. Everything in it’s place, tables, floors, and bathrooms. We still shudder at the unannounced guest, however.

  4. It is amazing what a difference it makes in my attitude, when the house is picked up when we go to bed. With seven kids, it doesn’t stay that way long. But who wants to have to clean the kitchen before they can even fix breakfast?

    A wise woman told me about “ten minute tidy treats.” The kids race to see how many things they can pick up in ten minutes, and the one with the most pick ups gets a treat (although they usually all get treats). The key to making this work is to not overuse it. I usually collect dollar store and $1 spot items.

  5. I always try to have an ironed tablecloth, too, so if the placemats are dirty, I can whisk them away and put the tablecloth down in their place. 🙂 Great tips, as long as you keep on top of them! The end-of-day cleanup is definitely one I need to start doing again. Loved it when we did it before!

  6. Great ideas – we pretty much try to do the end of day clean-up too. I always say the house only needs to be “semi-company ready”. Most people realize that we all need to live so the house isn’t always going to look like a magazine cover.

    I like the idea of kits even though our hosue is pretty small and we don’t have any place for guests to sleep 🙂

  7. I usually do the above, but it seems like the unexpected guests shows up when I got sick the day before and the house is a wreck or something!!!
    I love the idea of the kit though! That is great! I make sure the bathroom gets wiped down every day, but we have three bathrooms…….do you wipe all of them down every day?

  8. Wonderful post. I think we lose track of what true hospitality is. We aren’t as willing to open up our lives to others these days, so why our homes? How I wish we could get past this as a society. People are lonely. I loved this post because it gives practical ways to help us welcome people in. Thank you so much! I put a link to your post on my blog.

  9. Thank you, Kate, Susie and Tammy! I’m so glad you liked the tips.. Honestly, my fave is picking up each evening and showering each morning as soon as I wake up. I feel so much more in control. 🙂

  10. Prerna, another good tip is to have THE KIDS have an EODCU. This is an “End Of Day Clean Up.”

    Have all the kids race around the house cleaning as much as they can in five minutes.

    If you make it fun, it can actually be fun.

  11. Great tips. My husband is a minister and we live in a manse so the “unexpected guest” terror is even stronger — they could be church members coming by after service. Shudder.

    1. A tip for Kate who is married to a minister. Set a tray with lovely china , milk in the jug and sugar in the bowl. cover with a cl ean tea towel until visitors come. Keep some nice fruitcake in a tin so you can serve some with the tea. Refresh your tray every day.

  12. First of all I think I would die if any friend or relative popped in unannounced and expected to eat dinner and spend the night. Reminds me of Cousin Eddie from National Lampoons Chirstmas vacation. Haha. However, your tips I think are very useful to help me be prepared for when my mother in law or dad just happen to popp by to see the kids. My dad just made fun of me yesterday for a messy house and I was like hey if you have the courage to pop in then that is what you get. Great article!!