5 Easy Hacks to Prep for Last-Minute Holiday Guests

5 Hacks to Prep Your House for Last-Minute Holiday Guests


We all love last-minute guests. Mostly. This time of year you never know who’s going to show up unexpectedly, especially now that we are fully into the new post-Covid normal. Travel and visiting are the new black. So we’ve put together a short list to help you make your house look like Martha Stewart came over and prepped for your guests, no matter how last-minute they are.


1. Closets are your friends.

Take a quick trip through your house and pick up all the personal clutter lying around. If you can’t find it’s home, or don’t have time – let’s say you’ve got an hour before they arrive on your doorstep, the mound of laundry is looking like Kilimanjaro and the dust bunnies are planning a coup – closets are your friends. Just make sure it’s not the guest bedroom closet.


2. Light a candle, or five.

candles for guests

Scented candles are great for setting a mood – think about that old saying about baking cookies when showing your house. It doesn’t apply in California anymore, since your house hardly needs to be standing to sell, but you get where we’re going here. Candles make people feel cozy and welcome. One per main room is not too much and if you’ve got a few extra for the bathrooms, that’s even better.


3. Check your front porch and entryway.

What they see first sets the tone and goes a long way to overlooking the dust bunnies in the corners. Do a quick sweep and straightening of your front porch or doorstep. Light a candle in your entryway if you’ve got a place for it to perch. Vacuum or shake out your doormats, inside and out. Put away jackets, shoes, hats, packages, pets, whatever collects just inside your front door – closets are great for this.


4. Quick-clean the toilets and bathrooms.

clean bath for guests

Put a fresh roll of toilet paper on the holder, empty the trash and do a quick swipe on all your toilets. No toilet bowl cleaner? A squirt of the hand soap sitting on the counter will do just fine. Clean-enough bath mats can be shaken out over the tub to fluff them up, but if you’ve got two or more hours before they arrive, wash them – if not, go bath-matless.

After you shake out the rugs, run the shower and wipe down the tub (if you’ve got one) and faucets if you have time. Do a quick clean of the sink and counter, remove anything from the counter that isn’t needed. Clean the mirror. If you don’t have Windex or other glass cleaners handy, a splash of water and rag will do. Don’t use toilet paper or paper towels, they leave streaks and little bits of paper everywhere.


5. Clear off your kitchen counters.

Get everything off your kitchen counters except what you use daily – toaster, tea kettle, coffee maker. Wipe down all counters with light Windex and damp rag. The pantry is a great place to stash clutter. Get all your dishes into the dishwasher. If you have an older machine and need to clean your dishes first, skip this step if you’re pressed for time, you can do it later. Just make sure all your dishes are out of sight. Change out any tea or hand towels for clean ones and light another of those candles.

Your guests will think you always live this way, in a Martha Stewart version of your life where you have time to grow all the food for your household and make everything by scratch. Don’t worry, your secret is safe with us.


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