Clean and clutter-free are the key words when getting your home ready for a party. Impressing people with your housekeeping skills is not the goal of having people over, but you do want guests to feel anticipated, welcome and comfortable — not as if they’ve barged in unexpectedly on your daily life. As an added bonus, your post-party cleanup will run much more smoothly if you prep your home well. A little advance effort sets the scene for a relaxed affair — for the guests and the host.

cleaning stove

Declutter the bathroom. Model your littlest room in the house on a hotel bathroom: As much as possible, eliminate the evidence of your personal hygiene routine. Hair gel, deodorant, aftershave? Stow them out of sight.  Kids’ bath toys? Put them away.

Change and launder bath mats, towels and washcloths. Provide at least a couple of hand towels or set out paper guest towels. (Towels tend to get soggy quickly, especially if you have a lot of guests).

□ Restock toilet paper.

Wipe down the bathroom with all-purpose cleaner with bleach. Don’t miss: sink, countertops and toilet. Skip: the shower and bathtub. But definitely close the shower curtain.

□ Set out room spray or light a scented candle.

In the kitchen, wash and put away pots and food-prep dishes. You will thank yourself later when you have a leg up on post-party cleaning. Plus, it’s a buzzkill for guests to walk into a kitchen disaster zone.

Wipe down kitchen counters, sink and stovetop. For tough jobs, use all-purpose cleaner with bleach.

Empty the trash and recycling.

Place trash and recycling bins where they are easily accessible to guests.

Sweep the kitchen and bathroom. 

Remove clutter from any areas where your guests will be hanging out. Clear off coffee tables and end tables. Put TV remotes away and stack books and mags elsewhere, leaving plenty of room for guest drinks and plates.

Set out coasters.

Throw any clutter you don’t have time to handle right now in a box or basket in your bedroom and close the door.

Establish a tidy spot for guests’ belongings. A bed makes a good spot to place coats and purses — just make sure the room is clean.

If You Have a Little More Time:

Widen the scope of your declutter. Make a quick sweep through the house to collect nonessential mail, odds and ends, etc. Hide it all away in a box or basket until after the party.

Make more room on kitchen countertops by putting away appliances and gadgets. This creates space for food prep and for staging dirty dishes and glasses before cleanup.

Plump up and rotate the cushions on your couch. Arrange throw pillows and blankets.

Clean out the fridge. Make room for party dishes/drinks and leftovers so prep and cleanup will go more smoothly.

If You Have a Lot More Time:


Give carpets a once-over with the vacuum.


Wipe down the bath/shower. Use all-purpose cleaner with bleach in case anyone is a nosy nellie.

Give the entrance to your home a little TLC. Sweep or hose down the front steps. Luminarias on the porch and a vase of flowers in the entry hall make a great first impression for arriving guests.

Tidy bedrooms. If the whole house is clean, you’re ready in case anyone asks for a grand tour.