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How to Be “Customer Ready” at Home

When I made a last minute stop to drop something off at my friend John’s house the other evening, he asked if I would like to come in for a glass of wine. (Why yes, of course!)

After a moment, I looked around and asked if anyone else was coming over, too. John and his partner Jim’s place looked amazing. Okay, it always does. But the combination of wonderful music and the aroma, (think gentle breeze from a Christmas floral shop), made it seem like more friends were headed over. As John served the wine, a small tray of tasty morsels suddenly appeared. Clearly others were going to enjoy this, too.

“No, it’s just you, Elizabeth. We keep the house ‘Customer Ready’ so we’re always prepared.”

Don’t you love that? Customer Ready. Yes.

As a design professional, John sees to it that his showrooms are immaculate. When customers arrive, they’re offered a beverage and made to feel welcome. That hospitality is carried throughout everything John does, especially in his home. So I set out to do the same. After all, none of us wants to have what The Fly Lady ( calls CHAOS- Can’t Have Anyone Over Syndrome.

I’m sure you don’t have CHAOS, but just in case you do, here are some solutions. Because as any good scout knows, the motto is to Be Prepared.

With John as my inspiration, I got the house arranged for the holidays as if friends were stopping by, even though no plans were yet made. How’d I do that? By appealing to all Five Senses. Hey, if it works for Spicing Up Your Love Life in my webseries, it can spice up your social life, too!

Keep your home unapologetically in never having to apologize for the mess. Especially the rooms guests will see and use: living room, kitchen, bathroom etc. The Fly Lady has a whole program for this if you need additional help. Click on the link to see.

Have music playing or ready to go. Creating an iTunes playlist makes it simple. I created the following lists.

 * Brunch with the Times for Sunday afternoons spent reading the newspaper and sipping coffee. Or wine. To me, Classic(al) Music is Led Zeppelin. So this list includes Mellow Rock like Crosby, Stills & Nash, Joni Mitchell, James Taylor, Colin Hay, along with some show tunes and Barbra Streisand. Cuz I like to sing along.
 * Cocktail Hour has songs that create a sense of anticipation. Getting ready for the night rather than settling in. Smooth sounds from Norah Jones, Diana Krall, Sade, Joni Mitchell (always), Peggy Lee, kd lang, Frank Sinatra, Rachael Yamagata.
 * Invitation Only for the times I actually send out invitations. It’s five hours of songs arranged by their segues. The list starts out slow, then builds to a long, sustained peak, and then tapers down with songs about going home such as Simon & Garfunkel’s “Homeward Bound,” Michael Buble’s “Home,” The Beatles “The Long And Winding Road.” It ends with Ray Charles singing “Hit the Road, Jack.”
 * And I made one titled Hot Tubbin’. I know, I don’t have a hot tub...but I do have a collection of music in case a hot tub-like mood hits. Prince, Lenny Kravitz, Robin Thicke, Justin Timberlake. Again, scouts are not the only ones who need to be prepared.

A good quality candle will do the trick. That means it doesn’t say Renuzit on the package. Signs it’s a good candle are essential oils on the label ... and people ask where they can get one, too. If they ask, “What is this?” with the same look as when they ask how old the fish is, it’s a bad candle. I advise one scented candle for every two rooms. Too many scented candles can make a person feel like they’re stuck in an elevator with Aunt Ruby’s over-spray of Coty parfum. If you want more candlelight, add unscented candles.

Have drinks (flat and sparkling water, soda, tea, wine) ready. And stash a few treats in the fridge to have on hand. Cheese, crackers, olives, nuts, and a box of chocolates will do the trick. Prosciutto, salami, hummus, bread and spinach dip are also great. I like to have a box of appetizers in the freezer that I can pop in the toaster oven. Like spanakopita (rather than tater tots.)

Test every chair in your home. How do they feel? I have a friend whose scratchy sofa makes me want to leave after a few minutes. Is there pet hair all over your sofa? Is it an easy reach to put down a beverage? If not, add a table or rearrange the furniture set up. And use a lint roller or vacuum for the pet hair. Please.

Attending to these things before they are needed makes for far less stress and far more enjoyment. Scout’s Honor.