During the pass few weeks, I have gone to several friends’ homes and/or had people over to our house. Everyone tries to get together before the holidays and say Merry Christmas to those people in your life that you won’t see on Christmas Day. There are work parties, ladies nights, ornaments and cookie exchanges – the list goes on. These generous hosts open their homes to friends and family and provide them with delicious food, drink and a good time.

As a host myself, I know how much time goes into having a party. You have to shop, cook and clean – usually days before the actual party. Cleaning is by far the most time consuming for me. Although I think we keep a clean house, it is not always ready for every level of guest. The closer the friend, the less crazy you have to get. For example, if you are having a work party at your house, you will clean the whole house, top to bottom. You will make sure the drawers/cabinets are clean in the bathrooms they will be using. Every bedroom will be picked up just in case some of the people want take a tour of your home. However, if you are having close friends over, the kind that have seen you without make up, sick or hungover, the house does not need that kind of cleaning. Chances are, no one is going upstairs so you can get away with only cleaning half the house.

I used to think that was my own bad justification for being too lazy or busy to clean the upstairs. My main level of the house is relatively picked up most of the time. However, during the week, my dining room table becomes the project table. It is the music room for my kids instruments, the place we keep the wrapped gifts before a party, the large homework projects or the returns we need to make at the store. Obviously, we can’t serve our guests with all that stuff in the way. In addition, one area of counter in the kitchen is filled with a stack of paperwork consisting of mail, bills, notes from school or sports and general junk that needs to be sorted through. If I am having people over, I gather it all up and put it upstairs in the master bedroom.

That’s the messy room at my parties. Yes, the bed is made and there are no clothes on the floor. The dressers are dusted and the floor is vacuumed. The room is messy because it is the dumping ground for all things out of place. All those things from the dining room table and the counter in the kitchen go in our room. The dogs beds from the family room move upstairs, leaving the dogs to wonder what happened. I don’t have the heart to tell them that not everyone likes to step over two large dogs that lay between the family room and the kitchen. Usually there is a basket of clothes that I didn’t get to folding while I was cleaning all the other rooms. Depending on the level of friends we were having over, I might have to shove all of that stuff into the bedroom closet.

While talking to my friends, I found I am not the only one who uses this logic. They have told me that while the rooms we are using downstairs at their parties are clean and organized, I should not go upstairs. They claim those rooms are a mess. Really? How messy? I would love to see it. I don’t want to judge my friends, I would just like a comparison for my own messy rooms during a party. Are we about the same? Is my mess worse? How do they organize an unorganized room? Is it just dumped in there or are there nice piles? Does the vacuum stand in the middle of the room with the cord left on the floor? Are there watermarks on the bathroom mirror? Did they put the towels away they used from their shower that evening?

Again, I don’t want to judge my friends. I just want to know if I am a “normal” host. Let’s face it. Most of us don’t live in museums. I think I would just feel better if I could take a peek at the mess in other people’s houses. I just wonder what they are hiding upstairs.