3 Quick Tips to Declutter Before Guests Arrive

A brightly lit modern kitchen with an island and white cabinets. Image represents decluttering before guests arrive.
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Got company coming over, but the house feels cluttered? Don’t despair! Take a deep breath and try my simple 3-step method to declutter before guests arrive:

  1. Focus on the areas your guests will see
  2. Work on one area at a time
  3. Tackle big projects in bite-sized chunks

Whether you’re hosting a holiday party or entertaining overnight guests, these tips will help you focus on what matters and forget about what doesn’t.

And, they will reduce the amount of work you need to do so you can simply enjoy your visit!

Check out all my tips, tricks and ideas for following these three steps below.

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1. Focus on the areas your guests will SEE.

This is the first (and most important) tip to declutter before guests arrive. It’s easy to get overwhelmed thinking ALL of your spaces need to be tidy and organized.

They don’t!

Think about what spaces your guests will actually spend time in while they visit. For instance:

  • Entryway
  • Dining room
  • Living room
  • Kitchen
  • Bathroom
  • Guest room (if they’re staying overnight)

These are the spaces you should declutter. Forget about the messy garage…instead, get those kitchen counters and that dining room cleared!

Here are some quick and easy ways to declutter each area:

How to Declutter the Entryway

Photo of an entryway with shoes on the ground and clothes on hooks
Photo Credit: Canva.com

Many people forget about the entryway, but this space represents the first impression guests have of your home when they walk in.

It’s also a typical drop zone for bags and backpacks, mail, shoes, jackets, dog leashes and more.

Take a quick scan of this space and:

  • Gather up all the shoes, jackets, bags and backpacks and deliver them to the owners’ bedrooms/closets.
  • Toss the junk mail and stack everything else in an office cabinet, drawer or bin to be filed/paid/read later.
  • Stash the dog items in the pantry or garage.

Once the space is cleared, consider putting a vase of fresh flowers, potpourri or anything else that smells nice near the front door. This small gesture makes guests feel welcome and comfortable!

Tips to Declutter the Dining Room

A bright dining room with the table set for a dinner party
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A lot of us use our dining room tables for activities other than eating. (Right now, mine is the site of a major LEGO build.)

If you plan to entertain here, you’ll want to clear the space of anything that doesn’t pertain to eating.

Start by completely clearing the dining table and returning everything to its rightful place.

When I declutter before guests arrive, I often grab a laundry basket and fill it with items that belong in one space (like the office or craft room). I put those items away, then come back and repeat.

Check your hutch, side table, and any other furniture in the room. Make sure only dining-room suitable items remain.

It’s always a nice touch to set the table ahead of time, or place a pretty centerpiece on the table.

Ideas to Declutter the Living or Family Room

A bright family room with a gray couch, throw pillows and coffee table
Photo Credit: Organizenvy

First, look around the living room and see if anything belongs in another room. The laundry basket tip works well here, too.

Once you’ve removed clothing, shoes, mail and other non-living room items, tidy up the rest:

  • Fold blankets and either drape them over a couch or chair or put them away. (Check out these blanket storage tips for ideas)
  • Box up and put away any games or toys. (I’ve got tips for toy storage and video game organization that might help.)
  • Clear off the coffee table. Set out coasters if you’ll be entertaining guests in this space.
  • Toss old magazines. Seriously! You won’t read them again. If you want to save something, tear out an article and file it away, but toss the rest.

Quick Tips to Declutter the Kitchen

Bright kitchen with white cabinets and wooden countertops.
Photo Credit: Canva.com

Focus on spaces like the kitchen counters, kitchen island and kitchen table. Don’t worry about drawers, cabinets or the pantry.

Gather all items that don’t belong in the kitchen and place them in their proper homes.

Throw away all junk mail. Move the rest of the mail to your office space for filing/paying/reading later.

Look at your kitchen counters. Are they cluttered with small appliances or kitchen tools you won’t need during the visit? If so, put those away in cabinets, drawers or the pantry.

As a nice touch, consider a vase of flowers or potted plant for your kitchen island or table.

Bathroom Decluttering Ideas

A bright, small bathroom with blue cabinets and a white countertop
Photo Credit: Canva.com

The bathroom is one space you definitely want to declutter before guests arrive. Focus on:

  • Clearing EVERYTHING from the bathroom counter except hand soap, a clean hand towel (or guest towels) and a candle or potpourri.
  • Removing anything from the medicine cabinet you don’t want guests to see. Some people can’t help peeking in there.
  • Replacing bath towels for the guests; remove any towels your family has been using.
  • Pare down shower items. Guests don’t need to see six different body washes and scrubs. Keep it simple. Offer fresh unwrapped bar soap if you use bars.

Decluttering the Guest Room

A bright, small guest room with a bed in the center and two nightstands
Photo Credit: Canva.com

This one might be a bigger project if you use the guest room for storage most of the year. But it can still be done!

Focus on making your guests as comfortable as possible.

First, remove anything that doesn’t belong in the space. If you have to store things in the garage (or your own bedroom) temporarily, that’s fine.

If your guest room has a closet or dresser, try to clear just one drawer or small section of space. Guests will appreciate having space for their clothes and belongings.

Clear off the top of the dresser and nightstand. If your guest room has a TV, place the remote on the nightstand.

I also like to keep a box of tissues, a small clock and a few books next to the bed.

As an extra touch in the winter, fold extra blankets and store them along the foot of the bed, in a dresser or in a basket next to the bed.

2. Work on ONE space at a time.

I mean it. Do not even LOOK at another space until the first one is done.

Staying focused on just one space will help you complete your project much faster. When we get distracted in other parts of the house, it’s much harder to feel accomplished!

I recommend starting with the spaces your guests will spend the most time in. OR, tackling spaces you have time for in a single decluttering session. Not a lot of time? Maybe start with the entryway.

3. Tackle projects in bite-sized chunks.

You DO NOT have to get the entire house decluttered in one session. (Unless you waited until 30 minutes before guests arrive. Then just do your best.)

Instead, plan out your time and declutter in sprints. Decluttering can be tiring, so this will help you stay motivated and energized.

Set a timer for 20 minutes and declutter until it goes off, then do something else. Make it a game: see how much you can get done before the buzzer!

You’ve got this! And when you’re done, you’ll be able to enjoy time with your guests and make them feel welcome. Happy organizing!

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