Teeny Tiny Entertaining

The 7 Best Things You Can do in Those Last 30 Minutes Before Company Comes Over

published Sep 18, 2021
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Woman vacuuming kitchen
Credit: sukiyaki/Shutterstock

Nowadays, as we start to open up our homes again to (vaccinated!) close friends and relatives, having people over for dinner isn’t something that happens without a good deal of forethought and maybe even a touch of frantic energy at the end. (We’re all so rusty and out of practice!)

In addition to the food, a big part of being ready for your guests’ arrival involves setting the stage and getting your home in order. Whether you want to put your very best foot forward or you’re hosting old friends who wouldn’t care a bit about the condition of the house, you want your guests to feel warm and welcomed. You want them to walk in and feel wrapped in hospitality! And you want them to be able to use a clean bathroom!

This does not mean you have to clean the house from top to bottom! Honestly, a quick 30-minute cleaning session, right before people arrive, is plenty. Here’s how to get your home company-ready in just seven steps.

1. Pick up clutter.

Clutter is the number-one thing that makes your home look disheveled and can also convey carelessness. Plus, having clutter around probably makes you a more self-conscious host. Any way you slice it, clutter needs to disappear from the areas your guests will congregate. Grab a laundry basket and quickly go through the living room, kitchen, foyer, and any other areas your guests may pass through. You don’t even have to put everything away: Just stick the basket in your bedroom or another part of the house your guests won’t see. 

Credit: Lauren Kolyn

2. Clean the bathroom.

If you have more than one bathroom, designate which one your guests will use and clean only that one, but do it really well. Shine the mirror, wipe down the counter, polish the faucet, empty the garbage, and make the toilet pristine. If there’s a shower in there, pull the shower curtain closed, or wipe down the glass enclosure. Finally, vacuum the floor, straighten bath mats, and refill toilet paper and hand soap. Hang a fresh hand towel, and leave the door open. 

3. Clear surfaces. 

Clear off any kitchen counters, coffee tables, and desks visible in the common areas. Put away what you can and leave the rest in a laundry basket, in an out-of-sight spot, to be dealt with later. Once things are clear, wipe them down with a disinfectant.

RelatedThe Difference Between Cleaning, Sanitizing, and Disinfecting — Once and For All

Credit: Lula Poggi

4. Straighten things out.

Fluff throw pillows, line books on the shelf, straighten out the decorative objects on the coffee table, and make sure none of your lampshades are askew. This kind of house primping gives the impression that everything is in order!

5. Take care of first impressions.

Set your guests at ease and give them the welcome they deserve by addressing your outdoor and indoor entry areas. Sweep away any dirt or debris on your walkway or front porch, shake out your welcome mat, and wipe down any windowsills or pillar ledges. Give your front door a quick wipe-down. Turn on your front porch lights to help guests make their way. And clean up your inside entryway, as well — put away any shoes or outerwear that’s been left out.

6. Do a quick sweep with a vacuum.

Vacuum quickly — just to be sure you get any dust or crumbs. Now is not the time to vacuum beneath furniture or whip out the crevice tool. A quick pass-through on common area floors and carpets, and you’re good!

7. Close doors, and set the tone with lighting.

These are your final steps. Close bedroom doors and the doors to other private rooms. Return your attention to the common areas and be deliberate about which lights you turn off and on. Overhead lights tend to be less cozy and intimate than the soft glow of lamps. Remember that people tend to gather near sources of light. You can even “direct traffic” before your event by strategically leaving certain areas dark and using light to draw guests to where you prefer them to be.

How do you quickly prepare for guests? Tell us in the comments below.