8 Ways to Prep Your House When You Have Zero Time

It’s not enough that you brined and roasted a 22-pound turkey—plus a dozen sides—you also have to dust the baseboards and wet mop the floors? No, not exactly. Skip the deep clean on this insanely busy week and focus on a few crucial surface tasks instead.


Photo by David Meredith

If guests are going to throw their coats on a bed, spread a sheet over it first to protect the duvet.


Stash random clutter in a collapsible bin that you can put in a closet. But stick a note on the side with a deadline (Saturday, 11/26!) for when you’ll clear it out.


Wipe down counters and console tables closest to the door with a natural, all-purpose cleaner so that the smell of clean greets people when they walk in.


Replace your sponge. The grayish lump you’ve been using for a month may gross out potential dish helpers.


Hide the mail pile in a covered lacquer box.


Clean, empty, or move smelly pet bowls and litter boxes.


Turn down the thermostat four to six degrees; ovens and extra bodies heat up a home.


Pluck one bloom from the centerpiece and put it in a bud vase in the guest bathroom.