Hosting a big fat open house for graduation seems to be a Minnesota tradition. And it's a tradition that seems to ignite a frenzy of home improvement.


Over the years, I've listened to friends and neighbors fret over their home's flaws, soon to be exposed to all the world when  their child graduates from high school and they have to host THE OPEN HOUSE.

I've heard of folks who bought new furniture, repainted the entire first floor, even one who had a new deck installed because she was afraid the old one had rotted spots that might collapse under the weight of all those guests.

My next-door neighbors completely re-landscaped their back yard, the year BEFORE graduation so that the plants would be lush and mature by the time THE OPEN HOUSE took place. Their new back yard was so gorgeous it shamed me into doing some long-overdue pruning in my own back yard. Then, the day of their party, it rained. Not just sprinkles but a downpour that kept the party confined indoors. All they could do was show guests the drenched landscape through the window.

My own home has many unsightly features. The wood floor is badly scratched and worn, the carpet is stained, and the interior and exterior both need painting. I vowed last year to address all those decor sins in time for my son's graduation this June.

But here it is, already mid-March, and none of them have been addressed. My son's hockey team gobbled up all our spare time, and my daughter's study abroad gobbled up all our spare money.

Now I'm feeling panic. Perhaps THE OPEN HOUSE will need to be a picnic somewhere else.

If you've hosted a grad party, what have you done to get your house ready for its closeup? And if  you haven't faced that hostess moment of truth yet, what do you want to do between now and then?