Sudden Company: What to do, What not to do

Ivy says:

I have a longstanding agreement with my friends from both in town and out of town. You’re welcome to come see me anytime, whether it’s short notice or if you schedule weeks in advance. Just come on. I want to see you.

I’m often tested on that, and people have come to my house in varying states of clean. For people that aren’t staying overnight, or if they give you very short notice, my top 5 things to clean when you’re in a hurry list is fab. It also works when certain cousins of mine call me at 10 at night saying, “Hey, we’re on our way to Florida and we’re tired, can we crash at your house? We’re in Bowling Green.” (Bowling Green is about an hour and a half from my house, stalkers.) Then I add “change sheets in the kid who gets kicked out of his bed’s room” to that list.

But usually I seem to have about 4-6 hours of notice when people are coming to spend the night. In that case, I have more time and can get it all done. Here’s how I do it:

unexpected company

First, make a plan. Decide what will be most important to the people who are coming. Consider allergies. Are they allergic to cats? If so, the most important part is pulling out all the furniture and getting all the cat hair vacuumed up. Is someone coming with a peanut allergy? In my house, this is a major consideration, as my husband is a manager at a restaurant with peanut shells thrown on the floor. All his work shoes are carefully cleaned and bagged and I drop a call to him at work to make sure he hoses off his shoes and doesn’t bring them inside. No allergies? Awesome, forge ahead with general cleaning.

Then, go to the store for things you need. Any extra food, cleaning supplies, whatever. I like to pick up a bouquet of flowers, if I can find them inexpensively. Oh, and I also usually pick up some Red Bull for when I get tired and need to power through. Yes, Dad, I know it’s bad for my kidneys. I don’t do it *that* often.

Then, come home and get to work. Go from most important to least important. With the exception of the bathroom, which I do in one fell swoop, I tend to move from room to room. I tend to work from top to bottom, so the floors are usually what’s done last. This is living a bit dangerously- sometimes I’ve had to warn people to mind the wet floors, but working from top to bottom ensures that the work flow is smooth and you don’t have to do things twice.

house cleaning help

Click the picture for more cleaning help!

Don’t forget to enlist help. Even my youngest kid is involved in fetching and toting things back and forth for me. I tried to train the dog to wash dishes, but alas, no opposable thumbs.

So, that’s how I get ready for guests on short notice. What are your tricks and tips?



6 Comments

  1. Becca on September 21, 2008 at 7:03 pm

    I’m more of a “make them feel comfy” kind of gal. (I used to WORK for Hilton in hotel management….so I guess this is where it comes from). I like running the clean towels back through the dryer for 10 minutes with a new sheet of Bounce to make them smell all nice and fresh. I roll the towels and tie them with ribbon (OCD, maybe). I display the towels on the end of their bed with matching washcloths and handtowels.

    I put some flowers out with coordinating ribbon around the vase. Magazines, too, are always nice…especially in the bathroom if men are coming.

    Clean soap…..or full soap dispensers. Bottles of shampoo available in case they forget theirs.

    Fresh sheets…..perhaps spruced up in the dryer like the towels.

    Favorite snackies, if I know them. Cheese straws are a favorite for my family members.

    I just want them to feel welcome, at home and taken care of. My house is pretty clean, most of the time. For company I’ll probably chase a mop around the kitchen, just in case, and clean out the fridge. I’ll also wipe little finger smudges off the TVs.

    (And if I do all this…maybe they will watch my kids so my husband and I can sneak out for a night by ourselves during their visit?)

  2. heavenlymayday on September 4, 2008 at 7:38 am

    I have a policy- if someone wants to come visit me they are always more than welcome, no matter what. HOWEVER, I have told all of my friends and family- if you drop in unannounced you get what you get cleanliness wise. If I have at least an hour of notice then I sweep through the public areas of the house (dining and living rooms) with a quick de-clutter (usually into a bin to sort out later), run the vacuum over the visible areas, wipe down the bathroom with lysol wipes and swish the toilet and if I have time get whatever dishes are in the kitchen loaded into the dishwasher.

    With more notice I do a better job (ie- sweeping and mopping floors or whatnot), but at least this way I get it looking marginally better.

    My main problem when it comes to my house tends to be laundry, I am always in the middle of some sort of laundry because I just can’t get caught up. BUT, I comfort myself by saying, “Pardon the laundry, but hey- it’s CLEAN laundry!” lol!

  3. Carol on September 3, 2008 at 4:17 pm

    I always light a few candles, or throw some cinnamon sticks in a pot of water to help the house smell more inviting.

  4. Dana on September 3, 2008 at 3:19 pm

    Hmmm…how do I put this delicately? Hide anything that you would not want your father-in-law to see, pick up, turn on, and ask if someone would help him use said object on the middle of his back.

    Horrifying.

  5. Mom of three on September 3, 2008 at 2:42 pm

    Since I started to work part time, I keep the house cleaner than I ever did when I was home, so I would probably change the sheets on the bed they are using and refresh, make sure plenty of toilet paper is out, and wait for them to get here. I have really been on top of things lately. So proud of myself.

    Today for instance, supper is done in the crock pot. Got one load of clothes to fold in the drier (just got home, so resting) and a load of towels in the washer. THere’s not even enough clothes to start another load! Go me!

    We don’t have company just stop by, so I usually have a few days notice. I will usually pick up a special desert if I know they are coming. Mom’s coming this weekend, but I plan on feeding her Friday night at the football game, Saturday Pizza and birthday cake, and Sunday we will eat lunch out. Poor woman will gain ten pounds this weekend. LOL

    Most important thing is that you just enjoy them while they are here. They aren’t looking for immaculate houses, and sanitized toilets (if they were the Hilton rents by the night). They are looking forward to seeing you. Make the house presentable, take a shower, put on a smile, and enjoy them. Gossip, tell old stories, let the kids play late and not bathe. Those were the best visits when I was a little kid and mom’s best friend would stop by with her two. We’d play outside until way late in the night, go to bed sweaty and throw up the junk food we ate before dawn. They were the best times of my childhood.

  6. mom, again on September 3, 2008 at 10:48 am

    The flowers are a great idea. Everything looks better if you’ve got flowers around!

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