Planning and cooking a Thanksgiving feast leaves little time to straighten up your home. If you have just 15 minutes before guests show up at your front door, you can make your space clutter-free. Throw open the door and welcome your mother-in-law when you follow these eight steps:

Front Door. Guests on your doorstep are forming their first impression of your home, so start your straightening up at your front door. Remove boots and umbrellas indoors and banish outdoor tools, hose and empty planters to the tool shed. If it’s too cold to spend a moment outside tidying up, hang a sign on your door that says “Come in!” Hopefully guests won’t waste a moment inspecting the premises.


Entryway. Coats and umbrellas go into the closet. Banish the bundle of shoes and backpacks that have collected in the entry way back to each owner’s bedroom. Stacks of mail can go to the kitchen. Put out a small bowl for keys.

Coat Closet. Create some space for guests’ coats by layering one of your own on top of another. Use the same layering scheme for your visitors’ coats when they arrive.

Master Bedroom. If you invited your in-laws and all your neighbors, you’ll need more space than just the coat closet to stash coats and bags. Clear off nightstands and dressers by stowing papers, jewelry and loose change. Drinking glasses go back to the kitchen. Clean clothes go onto hangers in bedroom closet. Dirty clothes go into the hamper. If there’s no lid to close and hide your dirty laundry, cover the hamper with a towel. Shoes can go into the closet, or, if you’re running out of time, shove them under the bed.

Kitchen. There are reasons you haven’t adopted the whole “open shelves in the kitchen are cool” attitude. Thanksgiving is one. Christmas is another. Now’s the time to move non-essential small appliances that live on your counters behind kitchen cabinet doors along with the dish drying rack. Clean off the refrigerator door by ditching old invitations and straightening photos. Take out the recycling bin to the garage along with the garbage. Remember the mail you moved from the front entryway? It all goes to your desk if you don’t have a moment to sort through it.

Dining Room. Sweep off the surface of the dining table. Remove accumulation from the surface of buffets and hutches and stash behind their doors. If the job is too big, take the collection to your children’s bedrooms and shut the doors.

Living Room. Make space on the couch for guests by storing extra blankets and pillows in the laundry room, linen closet or children’s bedrooms. Stack books under the coffee table or on shelves. Sweep off the surfaces of the coffee table and side tables. Collect remote controls and DVDs on the TV console. Pile newspapers and magazine that you want to keep into a basket; take the ones you don’t want to your recycling bin.

Bathroom. Leave toiletries that guests might need in sight and remove others from the vanity. Hide them under the sink or in the medicine cabinet. Put out extra hand towels. Stack extra toilet paper on a shelf in plain view.

Thanks to Lorie Marrero, creator of, for these tips.