Throw this party: My house is a mess. Want to come over anyway?

Guest post by Dootsie Bug

Or you could always just hang this poster up in your home and never clean again.
Or you could always just hang this poster up in your home and never clean again.
Look, if you’re friends with me, you have to accept that I don’t consider your arrival in my home to be an event worthy of a serious cleaning spree. It’s not that I don’t love you, it’s that cleaning is reserved for those who might actually nag me about my filth. And I know you won’t do that. That’s why we’re friends.

So if you’re coming over, know that I’ll stash some crap out of sight and I might even do the dishes, but you’re not going to walk into a June Cleaver-ized residence. And don’t expect hors d’eouvres or carefully crafted Mai Tais. But you can expect a good time.

I maintain that having a great evening with friends doesn’t require blood, sweat or tears. I think that anyone can host a party, anytime — even when the laundry’s not done, even when there are dirty dishes in the sink, even when vacuuming is a faint, distant memory. Let’s throw this party.

Choose your guest list
I think it’s important to have friends who are judgment-free (at least towards you, at least to your face.) And if you’re going to throw a messy house party, it’s important to invite those friends. Invite a number you can accommodate.

Prep easy snacks
Unless you met your compatriots in culinary school, there’s probably no need to try to woo your friends with your cooking skills. Soda, beer, chips, candy. If everyone’s hungry, take up a collection for a pizza. Some of my happiest home gatherings have occurred around takeout.

Centralize the essentials
Video game console remotes, extra batteries, board games, cards, Twister, sensual oils, floggers, traffic cones, croquet mallets… whatever activities you have planned for the party, set the necessary items out in the open so they’re easily located. If you don’t want guests getting in on the fun too early, place them under the sink or somewhere they’re hidden but somewhere you wouldn’t mind telling a guest to search, in case you’re too busy to fetch them when the time comes.

Set a mood
For a messy house party, I think stark lighting is a no. Dim the lights a bit. It’ll help hide your filthy shame. Music is always nice, but I do have a couple cautions. One, the classier the music, the more people expect museum-like cleanliness. Two, the louder/thrashier the music, the more likely your party guests are to add to the mess (something about the rock show vibe means “break shit” to particularly ass-y people.) Decorations? This really isn’t that kind of party. Setting out art, however, can be a really quick way to distract guests from the weird stain on the couch.

Do a double-take
Your guests probably won’t care that you haven’t taken the trash out, but is there room in that bin for all the trash your guests will throw away? The sink is full, but are you going to generate dishes at this party? There’s socks and shoes strewn about the floor, but will guests accidentally trip on them? Wait, is that a thong hanging from the ceiling fan? Messiness is fine, but anticipate what cleaning will be necessary to ensure a stress-free shindig.

Have FUN
Because seriously, that’s the entire point of this party. So enjoy yourself.

Comments on Throw this party: My house is a mess. Want to come over anyway?

  1. Amen. While I happen to like a clean home (and impending guests are good motivation to clean), I don’t stress when it doesn’t happen. My friends and family love me anyway; they won’t stop coming over just because I forgot to swap in a fresh hand towel or there are some dishes in the sink. It’s okay if my home looks like people actually live in it.

  2. I am a closet-and-drawer stasher. If everything is tucked away (even in disorganized heaps) behind closed doors, my house suddenly looks cleaner.

    The hardest part is the dog hair, though. I hate sweeping, and we don’t have carpets and therefore don’t have a vaccuum, and it always seems like our house and furniture is covered with hair again mere hours after the old hair is removed. (In all fairness, we have a very sheddy dog.) My friends usually don’t care and spend the whole time cuddling her anyway, but it was kind of embarrassing when I was too lazy to sweep before I had another mom and her toddler over for a play-date and the kid was coated in dog hair instantly.

    • They make vacuums for wood floors! I hate sweeping (and mopping) too. We’ve acquired an arsenal of floor cleaning devices that are more effective and more fun.

      We just bought the Bissell PowerEdge Pet Hard Floor Vacuum (less than $50 on Amazon) last week and it’s doing a great job on fur and cat litter. It’s not effective on rugs/upholstery, so we’ll still have to use our older vacuum to touch those up. We also really like our Shark steam mop.

      Anyway, throw that party regardless of whether or not your floors are clean! But if the sweeping really causes agony, there’s a solution. 🙂

      • This for long haired cats too. The Furminator was pricey, but when we remember to use it he sheds waaaay less, meaning less cat hair to vacuum up before our cat allergic friends come over. (also he doesn’t hack up hair-balls if we furminate him, yay!)

    • For mildly allergic friends I heard it is worse to vacuum right before they come over. Experience anyone? One of my friends vacuums the day before or in the morning

  3. Amen to take-out. Chinese and Indian food is the best since their dishes have so much food for the price. I once ordered $300 worth of Chinese food (about 20 dishes) for 25 people and asked each person to bring $12, and we still had leftovers.

  4. We declutter a bit (read: stack the clutter neatly or throw it into one of the other rooms and close the door) and vacuum up the dog hair. Anything more than that and you should be suspicious. (My husband does cook, though- that’s generally why we have people over the in first place, he digs it.)

  5. My rule for impromptu get-togethers: designate an area of your house that is for Random Shit. We keep half our buffet empty for this purpose: have people coming over? Throw the clutter in there, close the door, lock it. The trick is remember to clean out or organize all that Random Shit after your guests leave, so that you always have the space when you need it. Otherwise you’re just collecting and neglecting junk, and will have to find more and more hidey-holes when folks come to call.

    • I think that’s my problem–when I shove all the clutter into a space, I forget about it for a couple days, then I realize that gosh, I never needed all that stuff anyway, so let’s just leave it there forever.
      Then I move and holy shit, why are there five dirty socks and a bottle of shampoo in this drawer?

      • Donate that stuff! If you find a bag or basket or drawer of odds and ends that you aren’t missing, get rid of it.

        We also use a post-it note or put a message on our whiteboard when there is stuff in the Random Shit buffet drawer. This means that people usually know that we’ve been running around the house stashing junk before guests arrive…but our guests don’t usually care. And sometimes we’ve been able to get rid of the extra junk after our guests ask to see what exactly it is we’ve hidden…win win!

      • haha, oh man I have totally done this. I found three empty drinking glasses, a stack of sketches, and a empty soda can on a shelf in my closet this weekend when I was packing up my apartment. Stashed away sometime when guests dropped by unannounced I’m guessing. I tend to forget items I stash in a mad dash.

    • We do something similar. We’re the dump-everything-in-a-box-and-put-it-in-another-room kind of people. The hard part is putting it away when we’re done! It was out in the first place because nobody wanted to put it away!

  6. This article is awesome and I totally agree. Unfortunately I still feel awkward, even when I know my friends don’t care. I tend to point out the mess for some reason. “Sorry about the dishes…and those papers strewn on the counter…and that random art project in progress” I don’t know why I do that.

  7. Confession. In my old one bedroom apartment. I boxed stuff up stacked neatly and marked “donate” there were dirty dishes in there but at least it appeared to be tidy.

  8. This is such an awesome article, and I totally agree. I love throwing parties and I used to do them a couple times a year in my old house- even if it wasn’t perfect and clean! Unfortunately, I have not the space in my shoebox sized studio to throw them any more. 😛

  9. The only thing I absolutely make sure is done is cleaning the bathroom. I have this weird thing that guests should have the comfort of a freshly cleaned bathroom. Plus it makes me feel better that they won’t be able to judge me on “ew is that some hair in the sink?” or whatever.

    Other than that I just try to make sure the kitchen is relatively tidy, and any messes are shoved into our bedroom behind closed doors to take care of at a later time.

    • I was just about to comment the same thing!

      Nobody is going to inspect your oven or care if furniture hasn’t been dusted. But along with the general “straighten up areas the guests will be in”, I would add “make sure guests are not grossed out by bathroom”.

      Y’all know what I mean!

  10. I have designated areas for when people are coming over. I always keep my living room pretty tidy as that’s where people hang out with us, or the barbeque area my husband built in our garden! No-one notices if you haven’t vaccuumed if they’re out in the garden. We’re also blessed with this great natural style woolly fitted carpet that has different flecks of colours in it, so no one ever notices if it’s vaccuumed or not. The rest of the house has normal messiness, but people don’t go into those areas so it doesn’t matter.

    But you know, I never go to other people’s houses and complain about messiness, so why would anyone do that to me?! My Mum is classic though, when I was a student and renting I would clean the house for days before she came over and she’d still tell me it was dirty. Her comment about filthy student housing has scared me for life and now I’m worried that everytime she comes over to our place she’s going to find something I’ve forgotten to clean.

    • I can relate to that. I always clean like crazy before my mom comes over . Last time she went to the bathroom and I heard her suprised voice from behind the door: “OH! You’re bathroom is actually clean!” Facepalm.

  11. The other option is to cultivate a “mad genius” look by having a totally messy place with craft supplies, books, your wallet in the fridge, old bills and whiskey glasses scattered randomly everywhere. Make it fun by having party games about the most surprising item you can find under the couch!

    • Is THAT what that’s called? 😉 I can work ‘mad genius’ better than ‘total slob’ for sure! (Seriously though, we are project starters- so there is always piles of projects everywhere- they’ll get done when they get done and if you don’t like it don’t look!- as for the wallet in the fridge it’s not totally off- found my sunglasses in there just the other day.)

  12. true! donate that stuff. if in a week i’m not waste deep wading around in the junk closet for that super-essential item- it’s time to purge. don’t even think twice. anything that isn’t a cashable check goes into a bag and out of the house. do it!

  13. This post is aptly timed. My party group and I have all lived together before, so we’re familiar with each other’s nastiness. That’s not to say I don’t clean before they come over…because sometimes I feel like the only time my guy and I really clean is when we know we’re having company -_-

  14. I finally put out an all points bulletin on Facebook when I had a panic attack over cleaning (I vaccumed four times on New Year’s Eve because we were having people over. Cleaning is a huge source of anxiety from my childhood) that basically said “If the state of my house bothers you, you are welcome to not visit.” Everyone showed up anyway (and though the house was actually clean for the first time ever that day, it’s usually quite bad so they all knew what they were likely walking into).

    We are just not tidy people- we’re not quite violating health codes (any more….) but we don’t do the daily tidy. We have a spree about once a month and try to get to the dishes when we run out of counter space. Maybe. Other than that I have mopped three times in the three years we’ve lived here and we clean the carpets twice a year, because we have animals.

  15. Unless people are coming over for a dinner party, the oven is the PERFECT place to hide all those dirty dishes you don’t want to do . Stack them on a cookie sheet if things are small/wobbly. Just don’t forget they’re there until the next time you need the oven… not that I know how awful that is from experience or anything…

    We also have a wardrobe in our living room that has a box in the bottom I use to hide any clothing/shoes/bags/cords/whatever that are laying around, and I leave the sliding doors closed the ‘wrong’ way so I know to empty it out afterward.

  16. <3 *swoon* i love you! you have sung the song of my people! my very messy but love to party people! i deep clean/organize my house for one reason and one reason only: my parents are visiting from out-of-state! i don't even clean up for my in-laws. hey, you live too close for me to put in that much effort! and i know my mom will tell me to my face how bad my house is lol if my friends don't like it, they can host!

  17. Not going to lie, I thought this was an article on how to get your friends to clean your house.

    On that note, anyone who can’t handle my messiness can’t be my friend. If someone does point it out, I usually say something like, oh sorry about that… Look! My puppy!

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