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Give Yourself Permission to Let Guests See a Messy Home

Updated on February 9, 2011

Many people love having guests in their homes. They enjoy the camaraderie and the chance to get to spend time with the people that they love. They enjoy being able to show off the area where they live and the lives that they’ve created for themselves. They like being able to offer hospitality to others in their lives. However, as much as you may love having houseguests, you probably also find the experience to be a little bit stressful.

Having guests in our homes can be tough on us. We feel a need to make sure that our guests are comfortable as well as entertained during their stay with us. No matter how close we are to the people we have staying with us, we try to put on our best face and that can be exhausting. And most of us feel like we need to keep a much neater house when we have houseguests than we normally do when it’s just us in the home.

While it’s true that you’ll probably want to pick up a little bit when guests are about to arrive, chances are that you really don’t need to stress yourself out about this nearly as much as you most likely do. In fact, most houseguests are happiest when you don’t go overboard trying to make the house perfect for them. There are several reasons for this including:

o The less focus you put on making sure that the house is perfect, the less stress you are going to experience about having a houseguest. The less stressed out you are, the more likely it is that your attitude will be a relaxed one that really and genuinely feels welcoming to your guest. Nobody wants to feel like a burden in the home and if you feel really stressed out about getting the house clean for your guest then that’s unintentionally going to be the message that you send to him or her. That’s not comfortable for anyone.

o A perfectly clean house doesn’t feel comfortable to most people. Have you ever entered a home that felt a lot like a museum? You know the kind – with the white carpet and the vintage furniture that you’re afraid to sit on because you don’t want to make it messy or possibly even break it? It’s tough to feel comfy and casual in homes like this. If you spend too much time making your home feel more perfect than it usually does then you may go overboard and achieve the effect of sterility that no house guest really wants to be a part of.

o Guests will feel more comfortable about their own flaws as well as about having you to their homes one day. Guests will surely appreciate that you went out of your way to put nice comfy blankets on the guest bed and clean up the guest bathroom. However, if you go too far with your cleaning then you can make them feel self-conscious. They’ll feel bad leaving their towel haphazardly hung up to dry in your perfect bathroom. Moreover, your guests will feel self-conscious about ever inviting you to a reciprocal stay in their home because they’ll worry that you’ll think their place is a mess!

So, although it’s a nice gesture to do what you can to make sure that your house is comfortable and pleasant for your houseguests, you shouldn’t stress yourself out trying to make the place look perfect. In fact, you should give yourself permission to leave the place a little bit mess. Some of the specific things that I think you should give yourself permission for when having houseguests over include:

o Mismatched blankets and pillows should be freely left where they are. There is no reason to make sure that blankets are properly folded and stashed away. There is no reason to make sure that all of your pillows match. These items are cozy items. They add to the comfort of your home. Leave them lying about where any guest can grab them and use them as needed.

o Let stacks of books lie around wherever they may. There is absolutely no reason in the world that you need to organize your books when you are having a guest over to your home. You definitely don’t need to put them anyway (unless you happen to be reading something that you don’t want people to know about!) Books are happy clutter and should be enjoyed as such. Leave them out for your guests to pick up and enjoy themselves.

o Make a mess with your arts and craft supplies and don’t be afraid to leave it there. I tend to have multiple arts and crafts projects going on in my home all of the time (usually collage and crochet). Leaving them out and about allows me to work on them at my leisure as well as to be inspired by them. I see absolutely no reason to put these away when guests are coming to visit. In fact, I encourage them to add to the mess that I’m making with their own creative urges! This same thing goes for kids’ arts and crafts!

o Toy messes are just fine as well. Whatever degree of mess you typically tolerate when it comes to your kids toys is fine to leave out when your guests come to visit. Really, very few guests will care at all about this type of clutter. In fact, many will get down on the ground and play with your kids if the mess is there for them to enjoy!

o Half-burned candles can be left where they are. Many people feel like they need to improve all of the little details of their home when guests come to visit. They toss out half-used candles and add brand new unburned ones in their place. This is a waste of money and a silly waste of time. Half-burned candles are just fine!

o Close your closet doors and forget about the mess inside. Why waste your time making sure that the closets are clean and well-organized? Your guests don’t care about your closets. Just close the doors and save that mess to deal with later when you’re in the process of other de-cluttering.

o Chill out about the dishes in the sink. Unless they start to stink, it really isn't that big of a deal.

o Relax about the dust bunnies. Every home has them. Sure, it’s a good idea to run a dust rag or a Swiffer through the home before a guest arrives but you don’t need to get into every corner. My baseboards and windowsills and underneath my furniture are areas that I rarely clean well enough when guests come and I’m fairly certain nobody who has stayed here has ever noticed or cared.

Remember that when guests come it is because they want to spend time with you. It’s not because they want to see the perfect home. Give yourself permission to relax and enjoy their stay!


Submit a Comment

  • swedal profile image


    7 years ago from Colorado

    I feel uncomfortable if the house is messy when guests come over. If I don't feel comfortable I don't think guests would be able to get comfortable either.

  • profile image

    Sinea Pies 

    7 years ago

    You are so right. If we wait for everything to be perfect, "perfect" will never come and we'll miss our opportunity to enjoy company. Thanks

  • IN2Deep profile image


    7 years ago from USA

    I agree-and maybe reading this will allow me to not run around like a mad woman everytime someone is expected-It's just habit to want things in order-but you are 100% right-I am going to attempt relaxing and not worring about it as much. Thanks for the great hub.

  • angel115707 profile image

    Angel Ward 

    7 years ago from Galveston, TX

    I couldn't agree more, life is too short to pretend to be "perfect" when we are more adored for being ourselves! Yes dirty yuck needs to be cleaned, but part of making a house a home, is having one that feels good even when its being used!

  • Genna East profile image

    Genna East 

    7 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

    "A perfectly clean house doesn’t feel comfortable to most people."

    Very true, and something many people don't realize. Great hub....voted up and useful.

  • Trish_M profile image

    Tricia Mason 

    7 years ago from The English Midlands

    Thank you,Kathryn!

    That was just what I needed to hear :)

    Now I feel a little bit better about my books and clutter :) :)

  • viking305 profile image

    L M Reid 

    7 years ago from Ireland

    Yes I agree with you here. If you are too busy tidying up all the time then you are stressed but also I believe you would be stressing out the house guests too. They would be too conscious of keeping the house clean too and not enjoying the visit

  • profile image


    7 years ago

    What a helpful hub. If only we could lessen the stress of having guests. It would be so much more enjoyable for everyone involved. And, of course, the point you make about reciprocating is so true. It would be nice if more people adhered to your suggestions.


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