They'll be here in five minutes...
Perhaps you've had it on the calendar for ages and it just somehow snuck up on you or maybe the heathens dear friends of your heart just called to say they were "in the neighborhood!" and would it be ok if they just "popped by!". Eep!
We are wholeheartedly in favor of an open-door-hospitality policy and fully endorse seeing people you care for in person whenever possible. But sometimes, well, gosh, the whole thing can take you unawares and, yowza, now that you're really looking around the casa and seeing it through a guest's eyes it seems that there has been some, shall we say, "benevolent neglect" on the part of tidying up.
NEVER FEAR! Our Foundry-Five-Step-Quick-Clean is our sure-fire way to say "yes" to opening your doors to loved ones and "no" to existential bummers regarding the state of your cleanly union. And while some of these do kick the can down the road on a major clean, there's always next month for that.
1) Light a nice candle and turn on/off an appropriate amount of lights.
Do the candle step first to really give the scent a chance to do the heavy lifting. People coming into The Foundry pretty much always ask "What is that heavenly smell!?" right when they walk in the shop door. The main element: we keep beeswax candles burning all day, every day. The honey-sweet all-natural aroma just feels clean and bright.
Bonus: lighting a few scattered candles not only makes your house smell fantastic BUT everything also always looks better with a little flickering candlelight. "Cluttered" becomes "cozy", "dim" becomes "divine", and "messy" becomes "magical".
After everything is done, then you can set the mood. If your house is lit up like a Hollywood premier, tone it down. No one wants to walk into an operating theater. Conversely, if your house is a dark hobbit-hole, zuzz it up by turning on a few lamps.
2) Clean the bathroom.
It is a truth universally acknowledged that every guest will ask to use the bathroom immediately. Wipe down the sink and mirror, empty any little garbagio you have in there, and peep the toilet for anything major (and then just let it be if it doesn't *require* immediate attention- if it does, luckily you have one of these stashed in the corner). Swap out any hand towels OR if you're truly pressed for time, flip the hand towel around so the side facing the wall is now facing out.
3) Do a quick scan and put everything that has a "place" away.
Coats to the closet, bags on their hooks, leashes by the door, laundry back in the hamper, dog pillows in the dog pillow corner (what, you don't have a dog pillow corner?!), toys in the toy zone. If you truly have a major pile of dirty dishes either quickly load them in the dishwasher and shut the door, or, if no dishwasher is available, put them in a sink full of soapy water. It will look like you were just interrupted in the act of dishwashing AND the soap will hide whatever's going on in there from prying eyes.
A quick sweep of the living space makes a big difference in the overall impact and impression of cleanliness. Close any doors to rooms that don't need to be seen and remember: these people are coming to see you, not to run a white glove all over your mantel checking for dust as if they were Mary Poppins. And if they actually ARE Mary Poppins tell them to come over ASAP and help with all of this tidying up.
4) Anything else? Put it in a basket and stash it somewhere.
Mail, papers, kiddo art, library books, knick knacks, doo-dads, packages to return, single gloves... take this random ephemera of a life well lived and simply: get it out of there. Most of it can probably get processed to the trash/recycling and/or found a forever home later, but now is not the time for that. Now is the time for clearing the decks.
5) Prepare a snack and/or drink.
While we love a well crafted snack spread, you don't have to have spent all day bopping around to your favorite butcher, baker, and candlestick maker to put on a nice nosh. We keep a larder full of easy-fancy pantry staples on hand at all times for just this sort of thing. It doesn't have to be individual creme brulees, just some nice nuts or a cheese if you have one. And we guarantee that simple crackers and a killer pesto will get devoured every time by grateful guests.
6) Open your heart as wide as your doors and breathe.
Ok, ok, we know we said there were only FIVE steps to our foolproof Foundry-Five-Step-Quick-Clean, but step six is crucial. Take a moment, either right before guests arrive or once they're in, to stop and be present in the wonder and generosity that is having a home and a community of people to welcome into it. No one cares if you cleaned your baseboards, they just want to be with you. Sit with that, for it is miraculous. Oh, and never, ever apologize for a "mess". Period.
Cheers to a clean, cozy, warm, and wonderful—and safe—season of open doors, open arms, and saying "yes"!**
p.s. are you the one going visiting? Swing by and snag the host a little something (for goodness sakes, they *maybe* just cleaned their bathroom for you!).
**also, you can totally feel free to say "no". Anytime, ever, for any reason or no reason at all. 'Tis the season for setting healthy boundaries! Then, do all of the above, enjoy the fruits of your tidy industriousness, and eat those darn snacks yourself.