Your mother-in-law is arriving in two hours and the house is still a disaster. Try designer Sarah Hartill’s simple tricks.
1. The speedy deep clean
If you are short on time and “the maid has been away,” focus on key areas. Forget the kitchen—you can clean up as you cook. Get the bathroom as spotless as you possibly can. A good, thorough vacuum goes a long way.
2. A dead-easy centrepiece
Sometimes I just put ornaments on the table. No tablecloth, no placemats: just balls down the centre (varied sizes look best). They’re colourful and bright, and they make the table look special without a lot of fuss.
3. Think Fresh
Flowers always takes things up a notch. Buy a bunch of carnations in one colour and cut them so they sit low in a vase—it’s quite striking.
4. The hands-off approach
Don’t overthink it. People are more than happy to help themselves. Serve food buffet– or family-style, and just set out stuff at the bar, so adults can mix their own drinks. This is all about getting together and having fun. No one has time to be Martha Stewart, let’s be real.
5. The easy DIY
Add a bit of sparkle to your table in about 17 seconds flat. Stuff strings of battery-operated LED fairy lights into Masonjars. With all the time you saved, you can finally catch up on The Mindy Project.
A version of this article appeared in our December 2015 issue with the headline, “Deck the halls with ease,” p. 69.