The fastest way to spruce things up a little when guests are coming isn’t to shove all the clutter into a drawer, but to leave it out and disguise it as decor. I have used Ryan Korban’s trick of sliding a handful of small clutter into a decorative dish before, but never thought of recommending it as a decluttering solution. Korban suggests this in the current issue of Domino Magazine (although that article isn’t available on the site, unfortunately).
His other good trick is disguising stacks of books on the floor as decor by placing a vase of flowers or a small objet d’art atop them. Instantly, it looks like you meant it that way!
When I was in college, I used to clear the decks after a particularly hectic week by tossing all my clutter into an extra large black trash bag. This included library books, dirty clothes, dishes I stole from the cafeteria and other rather large objects. I don’t recommend that strategy though. It’s easy enough to find attractive containers to aid in last minute pick-me-ups. Antique painted dishes, colored baskets, handmade bowls, etc. All of them do a great job of distracting attention from what would otherwise be a pile of junk on your counter.
Vintage bowl from LePetitPoulailler’s photostream