1. Chances are some of your stag guests see parties as a means to an end—especially during the holidays, when singles get lonely. You can indulge them and hide your smudged walls at the same time. Turn the lights down low, and place votive candles in low-trafﬁc areas. Combine that with low-watt yellow bulbs and you’ll have balmy, romantic light, making everyone (and your apartment) look more attractive.
2. For those of us without cleaning ladies, here’s the protocol: Febreze. Apply the spray-on fabric freshener to rugs, upholstery, pillows, and the outfit-you-love-so-much-you-wear-it-two-nights-in-a-row. Run a Swiffer mop over the floor, and use a Swiffer dust-mitt on the stereo and its immediate environs. Finally, pour Old English on your hardwood floor, and skate around in your socks, Risky Business style, for a pre-party workout.
3. Run out to Pier 1 for area rugs (to hide scratched floors and buckled tiles). Get some big floor pillows, too. Giving guests the option of sitting on the floor will make them forget your lumpy sofa. Fill Grandma’s china bowls with flowers, for classy display.
4. When the seconds are counting down, drop everything else and address the bathroom. Clorox wipes for the tiles, Windex for the mirrors. Burn a non-floral candle: Votivo red-currant candles, L’Occitane’s green-tea-incense cones, or cloves and cinnamon in water won’t smell synthetic. Toss out any used bars of soap. Swap 120-watt bulbs for more flattering 40-watt light, and put some breath mints in a silver dish. Hide tampons, razors, contraceptives, and antidepressants, but keep the extra toilet paper very visible. To deter guests from sullying white towels with Cosmo-colored hands and mouths, keep dark towels near the sink and toilet.
5. Last, but most pressing: your pets. Drop off cats with a neighbor. Barter, beg—whatever’s necessary. And remove that disgusting litter box. A small dog, however, if dressed in a red collar and tutu, is a better conversation piece than any artwork you might have. So he can stay.