OK, so you get a call that someone from your church is running something over to your house, or that your mother-in-law is dropping by to say 'hi'... You say, "Sure! We'll be here!". You hang up the phone, and you scan your house. 'Oh my goodness... This place is a MESS!'
If your house is like mine, and your life is like mine too, you home isn't really a MESS, but more 'lived in'... In a hurry, my home could probably be all 'cleaned' in 45 minutes - 1 hour. But you have 5-10 minutes.. What do you do???
First, if you have kids, don't be afraid to put them to work... EVER. It is good for a child to learn to help around the house. Don't be afraid to make them do this everyday! I have a chore chart, and have for about a year, for my boys. This has not only been great for my boys to learn not to make such a big mess, but also has been great for me! I don't have to try to do 6 hours work in 2 hours!
Second, realize homes will be lived in! ESPECIALLY when you visit someone else's home! How can you point out the speck in your friend's eye, when you have a PLANK in your own, yet don't see it?
Third, make sure you focus your attention on the worst offenders. These usually are your kitchen sink, your counter tops, your table tops, and your entry area. If these are a mess, the rest of your house can be spotless, but no one would notice! So, if you have only a few minutes, go to it! Stick those dishes in the dishwasher, or at least rinse them and stack them nicely in the sink. Or run a sink full of soapy water to soak those dirty dishes. Clear off those counters and table! Usually mine just gets stacked with things when we come home from somewhere, we drop them on the counter. The A LOT of times, everyone "forgets" about those things! Make each one of the children take THEIR things to their rooms... Make small piles of things that go together. If there are several things that get put away with the coats, make a pile. Make another pile of things that go on your desk or to your office. Then, you make ONE trip to each area, instead of 10. If you still have a minute, make sure they are all wiped down! Stuck on food or spills make a surface look HORRIBLE! Spray a stuck on food area with some cleaner, then let it set. This helps, instead of stressing and scrubbing over a tiny food spot that, when revisited in a few minutes of spraying down, would wipe right up!
If you have a half an hour, one thing that ALWAYS makes my house look TONS better is to pull out the sweeper and go to work! Don't ask me why, but the house always looks SO much better after it has been swept...
Fourth, look in the mirror. Then smile! Take a breath and be happy! Don't worry about things that you can't control... Enjoy your company!
One thing that also helps in keeping a home that you AREN'T embarrassed about, is to either before you go to bed or first thing in the morning, have your house picked up. Then when people "drop by", you won't freak out when you see them in your driveway!