Entertaining is one of the most fun parts of having your own space — it’s fun to show off your beautiful decor, to try out new recipes, and to host your favorite people in the comfort of your own home. Unfortunately, though, entertaining can also be one of the most stressful aspects of adulthood. With guests comes the responsibility to showcase something perfect (regardless of whether or not your home really is). And when does this stress rear its ugly head? Right around the time your parents, in-laws, or grandparents are coming to visit — those houseguests you just know are checking in to make sure you’re really as grown up as you claim to be.
Here’s an easy checklist of what to accomplish before those nitpicky (yet well-meaning!) relatives come to visit.
Guest towels: Monica Geller of Friends has 11 different categories of towels in her linen closet. That’s pretty excessive, but it’s certainly not absurd to have at least one specific set of towels reserved for guests. This way, you don’t have to give up any of your own, and your guests will get towels that have never been stained, pilled, or overused.
Guest sheets: Similar to the towel mentality, it’s nice to have a certain set of sheets that will only ever be used by guests. Don’t shy away from a nice thread count, and keep them simple in a neutral color. These can be used on a guest bed, air mattress, couch, or futon! Your guests will appreciate feeling more comfortable than they would’ve with just a mismatched pile of blankets.
Guest toiletries: How great does it feel when you get to a hotel and find an assortment of toiletries waiting for you? Traveling can often be inconvenient, so make it easy on your guests by adding a few essentials to the guest bathroom. Stock up on travel sizes of toothpaste, deodorant, soap, shampoo, conditioner, shaving cream, makeup remover, face wash, lotion, and mouthwash.
Laundry basket: It’s about time to pick that pile of dirty laundry up on the floor and put it in a proper receptacle, so you might as well choose a stylish option to display in your bedroom, bathroom, laundry room, or even closet. The basket will reduce mess on the floor, and — BONUS — your mom might even feel so inclined as to run a load for you.
Trash can: That garbage bag under the sink may have worked for you in college, but a cute trash can in both the kitchen and bathroom goes a long way in terms of cleanliness. Not only does it look nicer, but it’ll be much easier (and better-smelling!) in the long run.
Candles/scent diffusers: Even if the rest of your home isn’t quite ship-shape, one of the first things guests notice upon entry is the way a place smells. Keep your scents consistent, light, and universal.
Matching dishes: This one’s particularly important if you’re serving a nice meal, but it’s an added touch even if just serving a quick breakfast or snacks. Matching sets of flatware and tableware are even available at Target, so you don’t have to worry about breaking the bank to refill your cabinets.
Clean baseboards: Those pesky baseboards gather dust like it’s nobody’s business, so dusting or scrubbing them can work wonders for the overall cleanliness of your home.
Clean mirrors: Since you look into your own mirrors every single day, you may not notice the day-to-day buildup of toothpaste splatters or steam smudges. A quick Windex rubdown will make them sparkling again! (It’s one of those things people only notice if it’s bad, so don’t be alarmed if your parents don’t comment on your flawless mirrors.)
Deep-clean bathroom: You probably regularly wipe down your countertops and toilet seat, but now is the perfect opportunity to take an afternoon to get down and dirty with your bathroom. Scrub the shower, sink, and toilet, and wash down all surfaces.
Stock your fridge with essentials: While you may enjoy living off a steady diet of leftover pizza and chardonnay, your parents don’t need to know that. Stock your fridge with anything your guests might request — try to do your research ahead of time to make sure you have your guests’ preferences for coffee add-ins, condiments, and snacks.
Stock your medicine cabinet with essentials: You never know how guests may be feeling, so it’s a good idea to have a supply of allergy medicine, cold medicine, painkiller, antacids, and cough drops. Bonus points: bandages, cotton balls, q-tips, and tissues.
Dust the TV (and everything else): You may remember to dust all flat horizontal surfaces, but it’s harder to remember to dust vertical surfaces as well. A spotless TV is important because it’s often a focal point of a room.
Clean those hard-to-reach kitchen places: A little extra scrubbing in your kitchen will go a long way, so take a rag to your microwave, fridge, and dishwasher.While it may not be your fault that your significant other can’t be bothered to cover his spaghetti before heating, you’ll definitely be the one to take the blame for splatters inside your microwave. Still haven’t cleaned the fridge after that soda can exploded? Now’s the time.
Clean out car: Picture this: You pick up your in-laws from the airport, and your MIL turns up her nose immediately upon opening the car door. Avoid this awkwardness by cleaning trash and miscellaneous stuff from your car, then wipe down the seatbelts and surfaces with a rag.
BONUS: Buy fresh flowers for your entryway and/or table centerpiece. Want to go that extra mile? Or just too busy to complete this entire list? Grab some fresh flowers, throw them in a vase, and display them proudly. Not only do they show that you can take care of a living thing just fine (thank you very much), but they look pretty good too.