4 ways to be ready for unexpected guests

4 ways to be ready for unexpected guests

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This post is part of the series Hospitality

Other posts in this series:

  1. The Secret to Great Hospitality
  2. Hospitality: Adjusting our attitude
  3. Hospitality: Healing, changing, and setting boundaries

Hi, Friend! If this is the first time you are joining us, I encourage you to check out the rest of this series on hospitality. We began with the discovery that the secret to great hospitality is actually our attitude. Then we learned how to adjust our attitude in order to nurture the right spirit of hospitality. Last time we talked about three things that can hold us back and how to overcome them. If you have been following along, you might be thinking right about now: “Ok, I get that hospitality is an attitude. I’m working on setting aside my unrealistic expectations and setting boundaries. But what about unexpected guests?

For many of us, the thought of unexpected guests dropping by completely randomly can be terrifying. Perhaps you are introverted and prefer to carefully plan your socialization. Maybe you are super busy, juggling a chaotic schedule, and that one thing may cause everything to fall apart. Or it could be that you are in the season of life where your home is not “guest ready”. This might be due to having young children or experiencing a health crisis.

Whatever the reason, unexpected guests — as nice as it might be to see that particular person — can be quite anxiety-inducing.

How would you like to shed that fear? That anxiety? Do you long to maintain a sense of calm when the phone or doorbell rings?

Do you long for a sense of calm when the doorbell rings? Here are 4 ways to always be ready for unexpected, “drop-in”, surprise guests. Click To Tweet

Here are four ways to ease your anxiety and always be ready for unexpected, “drop-in”, surprise guests.

1. Be ready to stash the clutter.

Set baskets, bins, and go-to places strategically around to quickly “hide” the toys and unsightly clutter on a moment’s notice.

Very few of us are able to maintain a completely clutter-free home every single hour of every single day. This is especially true for families with children. After all, we live in our homes! However, you don’t have to greet surprise visitors through a narrow crack in your front door, too afraid to let them see the chaos that your daily living creates.

Take a leisurely walk around your home. Set baskets and bins in logical places so you can stash the clutter at a moment’s notice.

Right by our front door, we have a bench with three cubbies and bins. Two of these bins have been designated specifically for our toddlers’ coats and shoes. We have made it a habit! Every single time we take off their coats and shoes, we place them in the bin. This keeps the entry to our home free from the usual clutter of clothes, shoes, etc.

To keep a handle on the toys, we have implemented a two-part strategy.

  1. We have limited the number of toys downstairs in the “shared” areas of our home. Even these are typically relegated to the living room.
  2. In the living room, we have a small bookshelf and baskets/bins for all of the toys. Every item as a “home” and we are in the process of training our toddlers to pick up after themselves.

Our last home was small and had hardly any built-in storage, not even a coat closet near the front door. It does make it a little more challenging if the layout of your home is unique like that, but don’t be discouraged. Be creative! You can still find ways to hide your clutter.

Have baskets and bins placed around your house so you can quickly “hide” the toys and unsightly clutter on a moment’s notice. Click To Tweet

2. Keep a “guest” bathroom clean.

Even if nothing else gets cleaned during a hectic week, take five minutes to tidy the bathroom that guests would use.

This means a quick weekly clean of the toilet, sink, and mirror. Check the supply of toilet paper and soap, and put a fresh hand towel up.

No matter how big or small your house is, there is at least one bathroom that any guests you might have will be directed to if and when they need the “facilities”. Save yourself from anxiety and embarrassment by taking five minutes once a week to do a fast clean and ensure the bathroom — even if it is a shared bathroom — is guest-ready.

At our last house, we did not have a designated guest bathroom so our guests had to use one that we used on a daily basis ourselves. At our current house, we are fortunate to have a half-bath downstairs that is pretty much dedicated to guests.

While it does make things easier, I know firsthand that is not impossible to keep a well-used, high-traffic bathroom clean. Granted, with a high-traffic bathroom, you might have to clean it twice a week and it honestly takes just five minutes! You can do a quick clean before you leave for work, after you get home, right before bed, or during a commercial break of your favorite show.

Even if nothing else gets cleaned during a hectic week, take five minutes to tidy the bathroom that guests would use. Click To Tweet

3. Have extra food or snacks on hand.

Put a basket in your pantry specifically designated for guests.

It is fairly easy and does not cost a lot of money to keep a small basket of go-to food items in your pantry. This can be as simple as some snack foods like microwave popcorn, a bag of chips, a jar of salsa, etc. Or it can be a very quick, ready-in-ten minutes meal like a box of spaghetti noodles and a jar of pasta sauce. Or it can even be a basket with an assortment of teas and hot beverages.

The basket does not have to be filled with luxurious items. I like to consider it an emergency stash. If you find you use any of the items, simply re-stock at your convenience. Dollar stores can be helpful with this.

Depending on if you have regular drop-in guests or anticipate the possibility of it, you may want to tailor your pantry basket to fit the needs of the guests you are anticipating.

For example, we occasionally have (usually planned) visits from our close family so I like to have some food items on hand that would satisfy my niece and nephews. Our pantry basket contains a box of instant stuffing, a box of pasta and sauce, a large can of tomato soup, and a few bags of popcorn. We usually always have the fixings for either grilled cheese sandwiches or peanut butter and jelly sandwiches as well.

Keep a snack basket in your pantry specifically designated for guests. Click To Tweet

4. Tidy as you go

Spend a few minutes throughout the day to tidy as you go.

I once read that people with genuinely tidy homes don’t live like slobs all day and then tidy and clean later. If you get into the habit of doing a little here and there, you won’t have to worry about an overwhelming mess to deal with at the end of your day — or on the next available weekend!

So when the kids are done playing, have them put away their toys before moving on to their next activity. (Whatever it may be.) After a snack or lunch, grab the broom and dustpan and quickly sweep the crumbles off the floor.

Better yet, encourage your kids to help! Our 2.5-year-old loves being a “good helper”. He often helps picks up food from the floor and carries it to the trash can. Even our one-year-old is starting to play with a little hand broom.

Same with you. Don’t just drop your purse, bags, and coat on the first available chair or table when you get home. Take the one or two minutes to put them away properly and you won’t have to do it later. Grab the dishcloth and wipe down the kitchen counters quickly. Have a designated place for your in-and-out going mail so it doesn’t clutter your counters or table. Before going to bed, do one quick round of the main living areas. All it takes is five minutes. Straighten throws and pillows or put away anything that was forgotten.

If you are not used to tidying as you go, it may take a week of forcing yourself to do it. However, you will be surprised with how quickly it will become part of your daily routine. Eventually, you will not even realize you are doing it.

Don't procrastinate! Spend a few minutes throughout the day to tidy as you go and you won't have a big mess to worry about later. Click To Tweet

I have found in my own life that following these four tips have greatly reduced my anxiety with unexpected guests. It has given me a sense of calm that I did not have before and I’m more relaxed. I feel more comfortable inviting family and friends over at short notice and not ashamed to invite neighbors in who might drop by.

Are some things out of place? Sure.  Do we sometimes have dishes in the sink? Yes. Do we vacuum and dust as often as we should? Probably not.

But knowing that there are designated places for clutter and toys, the downstairs bathroom is guest-ready, extra snacks are in the pantry, and the house doesn’t look like a bomb exploded (or was ransacked by burglars) is quite freeing!

I know these tips will help free you, too.

May the Lord bless you with a home filled with joy, love, and laughter.


  1. Place baskets and bins throughout your house to quickly hide clutter and toys.
  2. Do a quick clean of whatever bathroom guests would use to determine how quickly you can do it and what supplies you need.
  3. Put a basket in your pantry and fill it with snacks and/or fast-meals for unexpected guests.
  4. Decide to make tidying as you go part of your daily routine. If it seems overwhelming, choose one specific area or room to start with. Tidy it whenever you walk through that area until it becomes a habit. Then gradually add another area or room.

Join the discussion

I would love to know your thoughts on this topic. In the comments below, share your hospitality triumphs and failures, your excitement and anxiety.

Is there an aspect of Hospitality that we have not touched on that you would like to be covered in a future post? Share in the comments or send me an email.

4 ways to be ready for unexpected guests

Photo by Drop the Label Movement on Unsplash.

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