Do the words, "Company's coming!" frighten you or give you a warm feeling? Many of us love to have company over for the holidays, but we get too overwhelmed by all the detail. Do you find that the prospect of getting your house cleaned and preparing a big meal sounds like too much work, so you avoid offering your home for hospitality? I have a friend with six children who thinks nothing of inviting a few more over for dinner. It all depends on attitude. Her house is cluttered, and dinner is frequently hot dogs with macaroni and cheese, or canned soup and peanut butter sandwiches. But people always feel welcome. She doesn't apologize for the clutter! She looks you in the eye and a welcoming smile, and starts a friendly conversation. Her priority is that you feel welcome, not "clean corners" and "fancy feasts", and to tell you the truth, I really don't even see the clutter.
Karen Burton Mains, who wrote the book Open Heart Open Home, gives several shortcuts for making it easy to find joy in sharing your home with others. Her first tip is, Never clean before company. If you have established a reasonable routine for housekeeping, don't feel you have to have the house spotless before company comes. She says, "If you keep things in order, people are not going to notice if the rug was not vacuumed that morning. And even if they do," she says, "they will probably feel more at home." So save your housekeeping for after the company is gone. Make clean sheets available for overnight guests, but there is nothing wrong with asking guest to help you put the fresh linens on their bed.
I'll share more of Karen's shortcuts next week, but today I'll leave you with one more housecleaning tip from another friend. "I learned this from my mom," she says, "Mom's secret was, Keep things picked up. Then when company comes, give a quick polish to the refrigerator door handles, and the bathroom and kitchen sink fixtures. It's funny that when those simple objects shine, the whole house has the appearance of being clean. And I always thought mom was an immaculate housekeeper!"
Judy Warmington, Woman Time Management (owner) -- Busy wife, mother of three adult/married children, grandmother of 10 (5 boys and 5 girls!), former high school teacher (M.A. from W.M.U.), Speaker, Author, Radio Personality, and Trainer of Professional Organizers.