tidy homeAh, the holidays. The decorations, the wrapping paper, the baking, the celebrating, THE MESS! If there's one time of the year when it's especially hard to keep your home tidy, it's right around the holidays. We're so busy, and there's so much going on. Should we get an extra hour or so a day just to maintain order?

If you're feeling less-than-ready for your next holiday party or for visiting relatives, there's still a few things you can do to make your home look tidy enough. Hopefully you've invited real friends who don't judge. But just in case, here's a few tips for whipping your house into shape before the holiday guests arrive.

1. Do the sweep. No, not with a broom. I mean, glance around a room and pick up as many things that are out of place as you can fit in your arms. Put them away -- hopefully where they belong, but if not, at least out of sight. Do this with each room where you'll have guests. Now grab a garbage can or bag and throw away every last bit of garbage.

2. Close doors and drawers. This is super simple, but close every drawer, closet door, and anything else left hanging open. Make sure whatever junk they're holding isn't hanging out but is well tucked inside.

3. Bathroom check. Check your toilets and make sure they're flushed. Swipe away any, ahem, skid marks inside the bowl or drips on the seat. Rinse away globs of toothpaste. Cram everything into the cabinets or shelves. Draw the shower curtain closed. And the most magic trick of all? Put down the toilet seat AND the lid. It will transform your bathroom.

4. Throw covers over the beds. Ideally you (and your family members!) are making your beds every day. But in case that's not happening for you right now, the next best thing is to just pull up the covers over the beds. 

5. Erase fingerprints. If you have time, run around your house with a sponge (or one of those magic eraser things, which are probably toxic but which I cannot resist) and look for fingerprints around door frames and light switches. 

6. Seats and paths. Now take one last look around and make sure there are clear places for people to sit down and clear paths from the door to those seats.

7. Avoid making more of a mess. Now that you've done the big sweep, keep it clean. From here on out, put stuff away in the right place as soon as you finish using it. Put your dishes in the dishwasher, not the sink. Start good habits now.

How do you quickly clean up before guests arrive?