Ask Lela

Ask Lela: Unexpected Guests

Ask Lela Burris

What’s your go-to tip for cleaning the house for unexpected guests? My neighborhood is tight-knit community and people like to drop by on short notice. I’d love to hear your advice on cleaning up my monsoon of a mess in a flash.

-Kellie Jameson

Short Notice Guest Prep

We all know the feeling. That moment when the kitchen was used as your 5th grader’s science experiment testing grounds. And the laundry made it out of the dryer and onto the couch, but didn’t quite get folded or put away yet. And it rained yesterday so your whole home smells like a, well, wet dog. And in the midst of all this, you get that dreaded text message. Your neighbor wants to stop by with a fundraiser order form for all three of her kids. In ten minutes… Don’t freak out, here’s my three quick-clean go-tos.

Make It Smell Clean

Before you even reply to that text message, run into the kitchen and drop the stopper in the sink, then swirl in a really fragrant dish soap all around the bottom of the sink. Turn on the water and let that bad boy fill up. If there are any dishes lying around the main areas of the house, drop them into the water.

While the sink fills, text your neighbor back and say, “sure, come on over, just knocking out some housework.”  The house will smell like fresh detergent and it will look like you just got caught mid-cleaning sesh. Just make sure you pause that Netflix show you were binging and flip the TV off.

Grab A Laundry Basket

No, you’re not doing laundry right now. That would be silly. You’re going to use that basket and fill it up with whatever is out of place in the main rooms your guest will be in. The kids’ toys, the dirty socks, the stack of half-opened mail, and the plethora of furry mice your cats only want to play with when you’re trying to sleep at night. Throw it all in the basket and take it to a spare room. You’ll look like you’ve got your ‘ish together all the time. And you do. Most of the time. Kind of.

Use That Front Porch

Being a girl from the south, I love a good front porch. When I’ve got a house full of tornado aftermath (AKA my ten year old and his love of Legos), or I just cooked the stinkiest of stinky meals, and no time to clean it up, I do what any southern lady does. I meet the guest at the sidewalk with a glass of iced tea and bright pink straw, then walk with her onto my porch and immediately plop down in a rocking chair. The tea shows her she’s welcome, but by sitting down outside, it’s a silent gesture that I’d prefer we don’t go in the house. And any polite neighbor will get the hint and gladly sit outside with you.

Read More:

Want more of my tips for surprise guests? Check out my blog post 5 Habits Of Homeowners Who Are Always Guest Ready to find out ways you can keep your home neat and tidy [almost] all the time. 

Have A Question Of Your Own?

Need decorating advice? Stumped on storage solutions? No idea how to organize that awkward cabinet in the corner of your kitchen? Stop waiting for the golden answer to appear at your doorstep. You can send your questions here and if chosen, you’ll be featured in an upcoming Ask Lela segment. Free advice straight from a pro. What more could you want? 🙂


  1. Sandra gandy

    love your ideas

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