Ready, Set, Host! How to always be ready for guests

Look around your house when you get home. What if I were to say that in ten minutes time, your friends would be dropping by?

Enlarge at your own risk - oh the shame of it all!

One Friday last month, I surveyed the state of my house and realized that I would be overwhelmingly ashamed to have anyone over. To be fair, this is not a state I usually find the house in, in large part thanks to a 30-minute-a-day cleaning schedule I’ve implemented, thanks to Apartment Therapy, and no small part due to my type A personality. But that Friday, my house was certainly screeching at passers-by, warning them not to enter.

I’d gone the entire week, tossing things aside the moment I stepped through the front door. But who could blame me? I was exhausted, and there was already a pile of clothes on the bedroom floor. What’s another crumpled skirt, wadded up blouse, and a strewn pair of heels? Well, frankly, it was just gross, and I can’t imagine wanting to invite even my closest friends, to whom I divulge my greatest weaknesses, to perch on top of the three bags that were sitting atop my couch.

It was mostly devastating because I love having company – it can wrap even the dullest day in a shroud of warmth and love. I think that even the house appreciates it – like being shared and filled with laughter transforms it into more than a house, but a home.

Once I dug myself out of my pigsty, I decided there had to be an easier way. Since then, I’ve made an effort to keep the house in such a state that I’m always happy to welcome people over. Here’s what I’ve learned:

  • Don’t let yourself get overwhelmed. My first mistake was getting to the point that I felt my mess was insurmountable. It allowed me to continue to exacerbate the problem. But if you hop up during the commercials of your favorite show for an hour, that’s a little over ten minutes that you’ve found to tidy up. It took me a tiny fraction of that to gather the pile of dirty clothes for the week and place them in the hamper, and afterwards, hey, I could see the floor again!
  • Give your things a designated home. If everything has a place to go, it makes it so much easier to put things away after you use them. It doesn’t matter if you have fabulous organizational tools and baskets if you can’t make yourself use them. I learned that one the hard way.
  • Keep an array of easy to serve essentials in the pantry. For me, that means a bottle of wine, good olive oil, a hunk of nice cheese, nuts, green olives, fruit, bread, and lemons, so I can set out a plate of tasty treats to munch on. If  I’m feeling extra fancy, I like to make sure I always have eggs (for an on-the-fly frittata), a box of pasta (a quick toss with some olive oil, parmesan cheese and red pepper flakes, for pasta aglio olio), and bacon (what can’t you do with bacon?). Everything else is gravy.
  • Don’t get hung up over food. I’m incredibly guilty of this, but I’m trying to let it go. You don’t always have to make a gourmet meal. You don’t always even have to cook! Take out is there for a reason, and I’m sure you know how to put it to good use. Never feel guilty about it.
  • Stop apologizing. It only makes your friends feel awkward, and they were politely not bringing up the fact that you left your unmentionables in the corner of the room. Either that or you’re fishing for compliments, hoping to come off like a more well-rounded version of a Stepford Wife.
  • Have clean sheets and a blow up mattress just in case. If it gets late and making the trek home doesn’t seem like a good idea for your friends for whatever reason, you can come to the rescue. A blanket and a couch will do the same trick.
  • When all else fails, tuck things away in a room that guests don’t enter and close the door.

What is the bare minimum you have to have done before you’d be comfortable inviting someone over with only 5 minutes notice? Bonus points if you tweet a picture of your own room as is tonight when you get home to @k8fr0st, @herbandlace!


  1. Hannah says:

    I couldn’t agree more with the point about having a ‘host ready pantry’. I actually have small shoe boxes in the cupboard with the non perishable host materials. Though often the wine gets drunk before its allotted timeQ

  2. Susan says:

    Great tips to live by KF. I use most of these my self but plead guilty to overdoing it sometimes. If you are feeling fancy, you might keep a can of pasturized Lump Crab in the fridge so you can so Jayne’s spread. I have found that one to be pretty handy. I keep “company” crackers which I don’t allow myself to open when I am home by myself no matter what. Well, maybe a hurricane.

  3. Hannah says:

    generally some quince jelly, crackers, jar of olives or fetta cheese and some nuts. I also have cans of a variety of mixers and some of the single shot (plane)bottles of spirits that i don’t drink should anyone prefer rum as opposed to vodka or the like. had an impromptu party last thursday evening and it was appreciated. My other tip? only throw impromptu parties on the day the cleaner comes…..

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