Go for the big targets. Focus just on the area or room that your guests will be using: dining room, living room, media room, bathroom, deck, whatever. Don't worry about the rest! If you think the bedroom will be seen, pull the duvet up and don't worry about making the bed.
Use a swish and a promise. No time for full-fledged techniques here. Spray a little glass cleaner in the toilet boil, swish the brush around the edges and bowl and flush. Voil�!
Smoke and mirrors. If your bathroom fixtures and mirror are clean, your guests might just believe the whole house is spotless!
I'll have soda with that. Make a grand sweep through your kitchen and carpeted areas, sprinkling baking soda in the kitchen sink and on the carpets. Let the soda sit on the carpet for 10 minutes while you wipe out the sink and polish the kitchen faucet. (And don't worry, we haven't forgotten about the soda.)
It's trash time! Grab a large trash bag and make the rounds of all the rooms you'll be using. Stash all those items you were "going to take care of later" in the bag and be ruthless! Empty bathroom trashcans into another bag and take both of them to the garage. No digging or decluttering — just get the big stuff out of the way!
Return to vacuum. Dash back to the living room and vacuum all the carpets you sprinkled with baking soda. The baking soda will absorb odors that were lurking in your carpets and the fresh vacuuming marks will not go unnoticed.
Do the mad duster dash! Start with the high areas and work your way down, making sure to get large surfaces such as side tables, chairs, and the television screen.
Time to declutter! Focus especially on the entrance, your home's first impression, and on areas your guests will linger.
Stick to stacking. Fan magazines you want to keep on display. Put books, boxes, and papers into neat stacks.
Out of sight means it's clean. Move from room to room to get messy items out of sight. Put dirty dishes in the dishwasher or oven (make sure to get them out before baking!) Take toys, bills, shoes, or anything else that creates visual disorder and put it in a closet or in the garage. Pull the shower curtain closed and put the tub and accessories out of sight.
What's that smell? Light candles that have a mild scent. Another ploy is to put cinnamon sticks and cloves in a saucepan and fill with water. Bring the water to a boil, then simmer it for the rest of your evening.
Keep the lights low. If you completely run out of time, just keep the lights low and your guests will be none the wiser.
Ding Dong...Relax! Only YOU know what you've been through the past half hour. Enjoy your guests while you plan your deep cleaning for another day.