It’s inevitable: If you have anyone over to your house for anything at all—a party, a book club, get together—they’re going to congregate in the kitchen. And then they might see that food landfill you call a pantry, glimpse your Jackson Pollock–style garbage can, or make the assumption that you feed your kids nothing but cereal for dinner (and they would be right). Here’s how to make it at least look like you’re winning at (kitchen) life.

1. Fill up jars of grains. That’s a fancy way of saying pour your bag of pasta into a glass jar. Do the same with your rice, lentils and any other grains you’ve got lying around—even your popcorn kernels. A line of jarred grains on the kitchen counter screams, “I’ve got my stuff together!”

2. Tidy up the front parts. Use this handy illusion to hide those three-month-old leftovers: Just line up tidy rows of beverages in front of your takeout-container army. Guests will open the door and give you respect for being a magazine-worthy refrigerator arranger, not a slob.

3. Buy black trash bags. No one wants to be assaulted by the sight of spaghetti-sauce smears on white trash bags every time they toss something. Black hides the spillage—and makes it harder to see what gross things are hiding in there to begin with.

5. Know when to fold ’em. Don’t let sloppy hand towels ruin the facade. Give them a nice fold to make them look like intentional accessories instead of afterthoughts. And when they start looking tired and threadbare, toss ’em.

6. Don’t let your kitchen table just sit there naked. Grab your nicest bowl and fill it with lemons, oranges, limes, artichokes—pick your produce poison.

7. Give plastic bags a posh home. Sure, you could put your grocery bags in old tissue boxes or wipe containers, but that’s so pedestrian. Instead, stuff them into a painted vase (nothing transparent) with a wide-ish mouth. So snazzy you can even display it on the counter!

8. Take your tea seriously. If you’ve ever ordered hot tea at a fancy place, you’re familiar with the concept of a tea basket. So steal that idea. Stash your teabags, sweeteners and stirrers in a pretty basket to present to guests when they need a warm, comforting drink.