Between inviting, shopping, cooking, cleaning, decorating and gift-wrapping, birthday parties and other social events require a tremendous amount of energy, time and creativity. Sometimes the clean up involved with having a party becomes a deterrent to the cause. The simplest solution may be to “have it at someone else’s house,” but with a few tricks, your cleaning time will be so scant that you barely even notice it. Enjoy hosting parties over and over again with an easy, regimented strategy for eliminating most of the clean up involved before the day is through.
Stop the Mess Before It Starts…
Perhaps the easiest way to reduce the mess made during your parties is to “uninvite” the mess itself.
– Instead of allowing guests to use your cups and glasses, have an alternative theme for the party. Place ice in a cooler, give out sports bottles as party prizes when guests arrive, and be sure they know the bottles are theirs to keep. This reduces waste due to forgotten cups and removes cups and glasses from the list of items to clean up later. If desired, it is quite easy to find a supplier who will print almost anything on a sports bottle or other novelty item at a reasonable charge – from “Happy 80th Birthday Grandmom” to “Congratulations Class of 2005” and more.
– Use paper plates and plastic utensils to reduce the number of items that would need to be cleansed. These throw-aways make clean up go much quicker and save on water and soap.
– If purchasing beer and soda, consider getting a keg of each to avoid empty plastic bottles littering your home. Kegs are often cheaper than the same amount of beverage in bottles or cans.
– Use Sterno pans instead of crock-pots. You can save the leftover heating cans but throw away the tin pans once the food is all gone. They are also great for putting leftovers easily away in the fridge!
– Keep napkins and paper towels available for unexpected spills and messy hands.
– Place wax paper below desserts and other menu items on serving trays. Rinse after use and be done.
– Select food based on ease of clean up. Finger foods are a lot easier to prepare and clean up, requiring less silverware as well. Cookies and small pastries are also better because their crumbs are less likely to get ground into your carpets than cakes, cupcakes and brownies.
– Use paper tablecloths to catch spills and crumbs. Throw them away at the end of the party.
– Remind guests to bring their own towels for swimming and pillows and blankets for sleeping over if necessary.
Keeping the House Itself Clean…
Prevention is often the best method of preparation, so think of the most difficult places to clean after a party and do whatever you can to keep those places clean.
– If the day’s weather increases the chances of mud coating your carpets, steps and floors in general, ask guests to remove shoes or at least leave floor mats by each door to the house so they can wipe their feet.
– Strategically place trashcans around the house where people will easily find them. Keep one within sight near eating areas so that paper plates and napkins find their way to the trash bins. Keep a trashcan in sight if guests will be outside as well – “highly visible” is the best policy.
– If desired, to make clean up a bit more fun for guests, attach a small basketball hoop to the trashcan and ask that guests only “shoot” non-messy pieces of refuse.
– Put a floor mat or a layer of newspaper below the trashcan as a spill precaution.
– Set up plastic bins labeled for each different kind of recycle – cans, glass, plastic, etc. Guests will be more encouraged to dispose of their garbage and empty containers when they know where to put them.
– Be sure your guests know whether you have a garbage disposal or not.
– Require all smoking to be done outside in a designated area with ashtrays.
– Do not wait to the end of the party to clean up – clean as you replace food items. If you notice some empty plates on your way to the fridge, toss them in the garbage as you pass.
– Encourage guests to throw out trash and recycle.
– Host outdoor parties when the weather permits.
When clean up takes less time and has your house looking better than ever, hosting parties more often may just become a new habit!