Have you ever received that phone call? You know the one I’m talking about, especially around the holidays. A girlfriend is calling from her cell phone, and she says, “I’m in your neighborhood and I thought I would drop by for a bit.“ You feel your stomach do a flip-flop as you look around at the laundry, toys, wrapping paper and bows strewn around the house. But you hear yourself say, “Wonderful! See you in ten!“ You may as well begin now to cultivate the art of deception because you will probably have good use for it your entire life. When you have limited time to make an impression, you want to get the most bang for your buck. So, here’s what you need to do:
- Check outside first. Most people think that a person’s impression of a home is formed after they walk through the front door – not so. It is formed immediately after they pull into the driveway. Remove toys (especially the ones that are strategically placed on the sidewalk). Give it a quick sweeping, straighten the mat, and if you have time, clean any glass on the door.
- Check the entrance. Pick up any clutter that has been left around the door and put it away. Straighten the mat, and move on into the main visiting area, which is probably the living room.
- Check the living room. Pick up any toys. Shut any cabinet doors. Straighten throw pillows and stuff any clutter that is on surface areas into drawers and cabinets (you can put it away properly later). Spray linen freshener on all upholstered furniture. Turn off the TV (hopefully, it’s already off) and turn on some pleasant music.
- Check the kitchen. Shut all cabinet doors and drawers. Start filling the sink with hot water and a squiret of dish soap. As you are clearing the counter, throw any dishes that are left on the counter into the sink. This way, it looks like you were right in the middle of doing dishes. Give the counters a quick wipe (just the main areas), and light a candle.
- Check the bathroom. Make sure the seat is down, there is adequate toilet paper, and no popcorn is on the floor. Reach under the sink and grab the spray bottle of all-purpose cleaner or a cleaning wipe and give the counter and the seat a quick wipe. Straighten up the towels.
- Shut doors to any incriminating areas, such as the playroom or laundry room. Pick up a magazine, wipe the sweat off of your forehead, and have a seat on the sofa so that you can lower your heart rate. Make sure you stay there until your friend is almost at the door, and hopefully she will get to see you put down your magazine and act as if you are pleasantly surprised to see her.
Or, if she’s a good friend, just meet her at the door with that beautiful smile of yours, and say, “I was just in the middle of cleaning. Come on in and give me a hand.“ When friends drop in, they are not there to inspect, observe, or be entertained. They are there to share your life (your real life). Numerous times when a friend showed up at my door, I’ve greeted her with, “Thank God you’re here. I could use an extra pair of hands.“ So, no matter what stew you find yourself in the middle of, if she’s a good friend, you may as well dish it out and serve it up.