Hosting a holiday party is fun, sure—but if even thinking about the necessary after-party clean up deters you from sending those invites, well, you’re not alone. Getting your home back in order and making sure everything is returned to its rightful place can make a party seem like more trouble than it’s worth. But after-party clean up doesn’t have to be quite so tedious, especially if you have an action plan and a bit of advance preparation. So go ahead: Entertain your friends and family, and use this three-stage plan that makes after-party clean up a cinch.
Before the Party
It might seem counter intuitive to think about tidying up before an event has even happened, but the post-party work will be much easier if you prepare ahead of time and clean as you cook. Once you’ve checked everything else off your pre-party to-do list, execute these simple steps before company arrives:
- Unload the dishwasher so it’s ready to refill with the cooking utensils and serving dishes you’ll use during the event.
- Empty all recycling bins so they can accommodate wine bottles, soda cans and food containers. They’ll be filled up again before you know it.
- Make sure you have extra garbage bags on hand.
- Clear clutter from surfaces so friends and family can easily rest drinks or plates. If you want your guests to use coasters, place them somewhere obvious. Bonus: Bare spaces won’t hide crumbs, which will make it even easier to clean those surfaces when the celebration is over.
- Condense leftovers to make room in your refrigerator for additional beverages and potluck offerings guests might bring. Have a few food storage containers on hand that you can use to pack up some of the post-party extras to send home with guests.
Immediately After the Party
Before turning in for the night, change out of your party clothes and tackle these tasks so you don’t wake up overwhelmed.
- Open the windows to air things out while you’re tidying up.
- Scrape food scraps off of plates and into a compost bin. Load and run your dishwasher.
- Hand-wash pots, pans and oversized serving platters, then place them on a dish rack or drying mat to air dry overnight.
- If you run out of room in the dishwasher, pre-soak utensils and cutlery in a large bowl so they’re easy to handwash the following day or ready to go into the dishwasher.
- Clear crumbs away from countertops and small spaces before wiping them down. Then give the floor a sweep so food particles and debris end up in a dustpan rather than being trekked around your home.
- Start a load of laundry containing soiled dish towels and napkins. Switch items into the dryer before bed if you can.
- Take out the garbage so it’s not sitting overnight.
The Following Day
This is the home stretch, but brewing a big pot of coffee will give you the energy needed to finish off these final duties. Indulge in a cup (or two, if it was a late night), then:
- Unload and refill the dishwasher with any remaining dirty dishes.
- Mix up some simple DIY, all-natural formulas and use them to do a thorough kitchen cleaning to eliminate any lingering odors.
- Stow away extra guest soaps and towels before cleaning your bathroom.
- Vacuum carpets, mop high-traffic floors and disinfect high-touch areas like light switches, faucets, garbage can handles and doorknobs.
- Empty your recycling bins. If necessary, hose them down and leave them turned over outside to air dry.
- Replenish paper towel and toilet paper supplies that might have dwindled during the party.
- Rearrange any furniture that was moved out of the way, including rotating and repositioning sofa cushions if need-be.
- Relax—you earned it.
Feeling confident about your after party cleanup plans? Now you can move on to the fun stuff—like planning which festive cocktails you’ll serve your guests.