The Unconventional Guide to Preparing for Unexpected Company

Uh oh. You’re mother-in-law just phoned. She just happens to be in the neighborhood and is hoping to stop by for a visit. The problem? Your house isn’t fit to be seen by anyone but your own children and the cupboards would put Old Mother Hubbard to shame.

It doesn’t have to be this way. With just a bit of advanced preparation, you can be ready for visitors on short notice, or even no notice at all. Here are some tips to prepare your house and yourself for unexpected company.

Planning way ahead

Providing something for your guests to snack on is really the only consideration that needs advanced planning. You can’t pull snacks out of thin air, but you can make prepping for guests part of your weekly routine.

  • Food - The next time you visit the supermarket, think about quick and easy snacks that can be whipped out at a moment’s notice. Cheese and crackers come to mind, but just about anything goes. Try muffins, chips and salsa, olives, marinated mushrooms, or fruit. These staples can live in your fridge until company comes or until your next shopping day rolls around.

  • Drink - Keep a variety of caffeinated and herbal tea on hand. In the summer, iced tea can be made in minutes, and not many people will turn down a cup of hot tea on a chilly winter afternoon.

If you have a half hour to spare…

Your guests were kind enough to call ahead and will be here in 30 minutes. Here’s the plan:

  • Clean the bathroom - wipe out the sink, clean the toilet, and light a candle. Done.

  • Vacuum the rugs - especially if you have dogs and kids.

  • Pick flowers - If you have a garden, bring in some of that beauty.

  • Make tea and put out snacks - Get out your nicest platter and a lovely tea set. Defrost those muffins and put out butter and jam.

If you only have 15 minutes…

  • Declutter - throw toys and clothes in a nearby closet, wipe off the table, quickly tidy the bathroom.

  • Make tea and put out snacks - Put the water on to boil and get out your fancy cheese board. Cheese and crackers can be prepared in less than 2 minutes.

If you notice a car pulling into your driveway…

  • Make tea and put out snacks - Put the tea kettle on, raid the refrigerator.

  • Wipe off the table

  • Put on music

Thinking ahead is the best way to host guests, but even impromptu visitors can feel welcome with a little practice. So dust off that welcome mat and enjoy your guests.

1 Comment


October 08, 2014

Ha! Unexpected company is the worst, but it happens all the time! I hope tea and music will be all it takes for my house to shine. Thanks for the laugh.

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