13 party clean-up tips from the pros
Start with a clean slate
Piling dirty dishes on top of more dirty dishes is a recipe for a long night of cleaning. Party planner Shawn Rabideau recommends emptying your dishwasher and cleaning up all the pre-party prep work before the festivities begin. Your spotless home will not only impress your guests, it will make cleaning up after them that much easier.
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Keep those boxes
Don't throw away the packages your cups, vases and other party props come in, says event and wedding designer Tammy Carmona. Keep them neatly assembled in a separate room, and they'll assist in a quick cleanup and provide easy storage until the next soiree.
When it comes to party decorations, Carmona believes in the old adage 'less is more.' Overdoing it with banners, balloons, and streamers only adds clutter and means you'll have more to pick up.
Take it outside
Everyone loves a garden party or BBQ--and it's easier to clean grass than carpet--so get your gang together in the backyard for some fuss-free fun. Carmona suggests using the house for bathroom visits only to guarantee that the mess stays in check.
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Plan party favors
Choose decorations that double as party favors so guests can take cute name cards and flowers with them when they leave. For children' parties, Carmona suggests a lollipop tree. It looks sweet, and the kids will be happy to help clean it up.
When it comes to tablecloths, it's best to stick with machine-washable linens. But for dishware, don't be afraid to use items that can be thrown in the recycling bin, says Carmona. Use clear plastic instead of colored for a more chic option.
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Finger foods are perfect for guests to nosh on. Not only do bite-size snacks make for a super cute presentation, you won't have to deal with the usual dips-and-spreads mess. Try miniature sliders or skewer mozzarella, tomato and basil on a stick for an adorable mini Caprese salad.
If you plan to cook anything in the oven, Rabideau suggests lining your pans with parchment paper to avoid a late-night scrubbing session.
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Serve a signature cocktail
Instead of a full bar, Rabideau advises sticking to wine, soft drinks, and one irresistible cocktail. The lack of options won't upset your guests, but it will prevent a messy bar and cut down on the amount of dirty glassware.
Pick up while you party
It's important to stay on top of the cleaning as the event progresses. Not to the point where you don't enjoy yourself, but the key to cleaning up any spill is acting quickly. Rabideau suggests having a solution of white vinegar, dish soap, and water in a spray bottle on hand--just in case.