'Tis the season to throw house parties, to jingle your balls, to get all festive-like. Which is fun! (Especially the ball-jingling part.) (Not that I would really know.) But those parties don't throw themselves: There's all that setup to be done, inevitable crises that arise during the festivities, and then the worst part of all—the post-party cleanup. An ounce of prevention, as they say, is worth a pound of cure. No, really, they say that. No, I'm not really sure who They are, OK? Either way, just heed what They say and take some time to do a little pre-cleaning to help make the next day a little less painful.

Start With a Clean Slate … But Not Too Clean

Here's the deal with cleaning before a party: You should clean, for sure. But don't, like, deep clean—you're throwing a party, which means the house is gonna get a little trashed. But also, you're throwing a party, so you want your guests to be a little impressed by your pad. So: Clean, but don't go crazy.

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The chores you should definitely do before the party are emptying the dishwasher, and/or washing, drying, and putting away any kitchen items that need to be washed by hand. That will free up space for all the dirty stuff that your party will generate.

Speaking of that dirty stuff! Take out the trash. Actually if you do nothing else, merely taking out the trash will go a long way toward making party cleanup easier. You'll be glad for those empty trashcans into which guests can toss bottles/cans/cups/their cookies. Because parties tend to involve a lot of liquids, use heavy-duty garbage-can liners to help prevent leaks.

To minimize the headache of cleaning up after spills and other accidents, declutter surfaces and, if you have them, roll up and store small rugs, throw blankets, and decorative pillows.

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As for those things you shouldn't bother cleaning: Sweep or vacuum, but don't mop. You'll be so mad the next day when you have to mop all over again. This is also not the time to do a deep cleaning of your kitchen—the counters will get sticky and gross, so keep your kitchen cleaning more on the cosmetic side of things and save the scrubbing for the day after your shindig.

Use Disposable Items ...

This is a no-brainer, but worth stating nonetheless: Using disposables cuts way back on the amount of post-party cleanup that will be required of you. But don't stop at cups, plates, and napkins—using disposable bowls and serving trays for snacks will make food cleanup go much, much faster. You're not really going to keep those leftover Doritos anyway, are you? (You are not. This is me telling you you're not.)

If you're ready to move beyond red SOLO cups and white Chinet plates, pair these blue chevron cups with aqua-striped small plates for something a little cooler.

... And Have a Place, or Places, for Guests to Dispose of Them

You've emptied the trash cans and lined them with heavy-duty garbage bags. Great! Now make sure your guests can find them. If you normally stash garbage bins under the kitchen or bathroom sinks, consider putting them out in plain sight for the duration of your bash. Placing a rubbage bin next to or near the bar will make it easy for people to toss empties, plates, and napkins.

Make Mindful Snack Choices

Every party should have at least a small amount of food available for guests to nosh on so that people who forgot to have dinner have something to put in their empty stomachs beyond just alcohol. Those people will still get too drunk, and will probably drop a huge blob of salsa right on your white couch. (Why do you have a white couch in the first place?) Sticking with snacks that are less likely to drip all over the place (chocolate fondue?) or leave a permanent stain (the aforementioned salsa) will at least serve to cut back on the next-day damage to your home.

Have Cleaning Supplies on Hand

You know what every party needs? Beer, yes. But also, paper towels! Grab a few extra rolls when you're out on that beer run and stash one in all the main rooms in which your guests will gather. That way they'll already be on hand when inevitable spills happen.

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There are a few other post-party cleanup staples that you should go out and get before the festivities kick off, mostly because it will be a huge drag to have to do so when you're being crushed under the weight of your hangover. Stock up on Magic Erasers to tackle stains on countertops and dings on walls; a carpet and upholstery cleaner like Resolve for removing the evidence of spills from your furniture and rugs; and a bottle of white vinegar for eliminating stale beer and smoke smells—pour about a cup of the stuff into a small bowl and set it in an unobtrusive spot to absorb odors. Opening the windows will help, too, but you probably already know that.


Jolie Kerr is the author of the book My Boyfriend Barfed in My Handbag … And Other Things You Can't Ask Martha (Plume). Are you dirty? Check The Squalor Archive for assistance. Are you still dirty? Email her.

Photo by ShutterStock.

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