8 Quick steps to get your house ready for entertaining

Aug 19, 2009 at 3:11 p.m. ET

More and more people are entertaining family and friends in their homes rather than outside venues. That can save time and add convenience, but hosting a party means stressing over getting the house "perfect" for guests. Here are some quick ways to get your home entertainment-ready -- and give you the freedom enjoy your company!

Women at party drinking wine

Supply the bathroom

Make sure there's plenty of of toilet paper accessible to your guests. And as long as you're in there, wipe down the toilet and sink, and place a basket of necessities on the counter. These might include air freshener, facial tissue, spare towels and extra soap.

Surface clean

There's no need to go into mass reorganization of your home -- guests will probably not go digging into your cabinets, closets and drawers. Just clear the clutter and wipe your countertops (baby wipes work well), dry-dust the areas where your guests will be mingling, place your laundry into the machine or in baskets, and put the dirty dishes into the dishwasher or stash them in the oven.

Make your home smell good

Before you pull the spray trigger on any air fresheners or perfume, remember that a little bit goes a long way. Create a subtle, welcoming scent by using just a spray or two of air freshener, or light a candle where it won't be a fire hazard. A plug-in air freshener, reed diffuser and fresh flowers also work to create an understated, personalized scent. If your supply of air fresheners has run dry, pop in a load of laundry! The scent of clean clothes can lift spirits and lessen the laundry load for later.

leash your pets

Many people are allergic to cats, dogs and other types of family pets. Relocate the litter box (your cat will adjust), move the dog bed and place the pets in another room while your guests are visiting. Even though they're out of sight, though, the smell of animals can linger. Keep a supply of Febreeze around to get Spot's smell out of the areas he has claimed as his own.

Create some space

Entertaining with kids

doesn't have to be a problem. Enlist the support of the "general contractors" who built the blanket forts in your living room and left their toys laying about by handing each child a garbage bag. Remove unnecessary items like the ironing board, the ladder and the end table that has nothing on it to create more space for guests to mingle, as well as the illusion of a larger area.

Close the door

While you may employ the "open-door policy" when it comes to entertaining, you don't need it to translate to every room in the house. Close the doors to all closets and other rooms you don't want people to enter.

Get your grub on

Even if your guests aren't staying long, it's always nice to offer food and/or drink like decaf coffee or tea. Bring out a colorful bowl of fresh fruit and nuts, or check out some quick and easy recipes to make beforehand.

Get your garb on

The first thing guests see when they enter your home is you, so "decorate" appropriately. Wear an outfit that complements your style and fits the occasion. Above all, make sure your clothes are clean, and don't forget the most important accessory for any hostess: A smile!

Having a spotless home is not a prerequisite for a guest-ready home. Don't stress about the fact that you're not the Queen of Clean, and enjoy your company through some good old-fashioned conversation and company.