Beyond a good cleaning, here’s to do to make your house party ready:
· Clutter bust. Put all toys in one designated playroom, ideally with the kids, a pizza and a babysitter. Cut back your stack of books and magazines to two each, and the newspaper to that day’s. Blast through the mail stack. Put what you can’t throw away or file in a basket in the garage to sort after the party.
· Strip the refrigerator of all the kids’ pictures and artwork. Open it and toss anything old, smelly or gross.
· Edit your stuff. If you must feature your angel collection, don’t put out all 15, put out three of your prettiest, together. It’s better to start with a clean surface and add a few carefully selected items, than to figure out what to remove.
· Get the magazines out of the bathroom. “No one needs to know what you’re reading in there. It conjures up a weird image.” Speaking of weird images, I once went into a bathroom and found a laptop. Detail this space well. Set out clean guest towels. Remove anything embarrassing from the cabinets. People look.
· Edit your bulletin boards. Remove appointment cards and prescriptions. No one wants to know when your next colon screening is, or that your husband’s on Viagra and you’re on estrogen.
· Hide the laundry room. However, if your guests will be in there, dump all dirty clothes in the washer and close the lid. Put a tablecloth over the washer and dryer to make back-up counter space.
· Cut the lights. Switch 60 watt bulbs to 40 watt for softer ambience. Light candles. They hide a lot, including dust in corners and worry lines. Pillars burn longest. Avoid scented candles, which make some people sick.
· Do a walk through. Start at the front door. Plan where guests will put coats and purses, where they will head for a drink or food, and where they will go from there. Be sure the experience flows. If a place in your house usually becomes a bottleneck, rearrange furniture to open it. To get guests to gather in other parts of the house, put food there.
· Point the way. For large parties, place directional signs on easels that point to the coatroom, bar or kitchen. This frees you from being traffic cop.
· Or simply think twice before opening your big mother mouth and saying: Party at my place!