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5 Tips for a Quick Party Clean Up

My favorite feeling is at the end of a really great party where there is still good food around, the house is decorated and besides a few dirty dishes the house still feels really clean from the pre-party scour. I’ve also felt the opposite feeling, where I’m tired and there is Mount Kiliman-dishes piled high in my kitchen! Here are my basic tips for having a quick party clean up. (I’d love to hear what you do for a quick party clean up in the comments.)

1. Start with a Sparkly Clean House
This might seem a little obvious but it’s easier said than done. It takes some planning to prep the main dishes the day before so that the day of the party you’re starting with a clean kitchen. I even have one friend who schedules a cleaning lady to show up a few hours before her party starts so that everything is sparkly clean.
2. Rent Dishes
Most people don’t realize that renting out dishes is surprisingly affordable. Besides having enough “real” plates to serve your guests, the best part of renting dishes is you can return the dishes dirty. Seriously, you just drop them off, leftover-shrimp-tails-and-all and don’t have to lift a finger. Seems almost too good to be true.
3. Use Disposable Plates
Disposable plates used to automatically mean you were going for a casual vibe. But the last few years have brought a lot more dare-I-say “classy” options in the compostable/biodegradable plates and cups category. My favorites are Bambu Plates and Susty Party.
4. Keep the Waste Baskets in Sight
Right before a party starts I make a mental checklist of the basics: bathrooms, coats, garbage, and water to make sure I’m not forgetting anything crucial. By putting the waste baskets out your guests will know where to place their cocktail napkins etc and will cut down your clean up time. Help them, help you!
5. Send leftovers home with guests.
Have the tin foil ready or if you want to be really fancy keep these on hand for special leftover boxes.
I love working with Glad as a sponsor because their Forceflex trash bags are my favorite. (I’m not being paid to say this!) They are doing a Trim Your Waste program where readers can enter to win big.  Check it out!
This post is sponsored by Glad®. Take small steps to reduce waste and earn a chance to win big. Sign up for Glad’s Trim Your Waste program here.

photo credits: Heather Zweig / Paul Ferney for Oh Happy Day
  1. Michelle

    May 30, 2013

    Where are those cute red and green cups from?

      • jordan
      • May 30, 2013

      Susty Party

  2. Becky Loose From The Zoo

    May 30, 2013

    oh my word those leftovers labels are such a brilliant idea! they make it seem like you’re not just trying to clean out your fridge on people haha!! the renting dishes idea seems amazing. do you use a local place or is there a widespread service that does this?


  3. bp

    May 30, 2013

    Hi Jordan! Love this! The only thing better than a fun party is the quick clean up. It’s like you wrote this post for me!

  4. Melissa

    May 30, 2013

    The only thing I’ve learned a bit differently is my kitchen floor. Sweep, make presentable, your kitchen floor before the party. But MOP after the party (like, the next day). This might just be my own problem, but it made me a bit sad to mop for the party only to have it need another mopping a few hours later.

  5. Ana

    May 30, 2013

    I didn’t know you can rent dishes. That’s really convenient. Can you share your favorite? Thanks!

  6. Ann

    May 30, 2013

    Yes, share your favorite! All of the rental places I know require you to at least rinse them. I would love to skip that step…

  7. Michelle H

    May 30, 2013

    Saving these resources for classy and compostable options. Where do you like to rent your dishes from inSF?

  8. Michelle @ Fully Belly, Worn Soles

    May 30, 2013

    Good tips! I’m glad the disposable options you included are environmentally friendly. It drives me crazy to see a pile of styrofoam at the end of a party!

  9. Morgan

    May 30, 2013

    These are good tips! The starting with a clean house is definitely easier said than done. I love the to-go boxes, too! Those would be great to keep on hand! 🙂

  10. Liese | lipstickandsoda

    May 30, 2013

    wow, those are some fancy leftovers 🙂 thanks for sharing!

  11. catK

    May 30, 2013

    this may be a silly question…but is rinse meaning there’s no remnants whatsoever, like no streaks of sauce? or just no chunks of food?

  12. Aimee Giese | Greeblemonkey

    May 30, 2013

    Great tips. I never ever thought of renting plates before. And by the way – we are NEVER without glad press and seal wrap – sometimes I just wrap leftovers in it with no container.

  13. desert horizon apartments

    May 30, 2013

    Wonderful tips when having parties! Cleaning before and after parties is essential. I especially love your idea about having some containers ready for leftovers.

  14. essex wedding venue

    May 31, 2013

    I think that this idea can be a lot helpful for the people who had a party or wedding at their home. I have not experienced it because we always have a party outside our home and also I got married at a venue in Essex.

  15. Rebecca at thisfineday

    May 31, 2013

    So funny- the clean your house sparkly before the party- I always do. I’ll spend all day cleaning, then within 10 minutes of the first guests arriving it all goes south and no one would ever know the house WAS beautiful! Another thing I do is non-chalantly clean up as we go just to tackle a little bit of mess along the way. Having an empty dishwasher at the beginning of the party, so you can easily stash dirties away is a plus, also if it’s nice out having guests OUTSIDE also helps (A LOT!).

  16. Paulette Leto

    May 31, 2013

    I’ve never heard of renting dishes before. That’s very interesting! How much does that sort of thing cost?

  17. Melissa Summers

    May 31, 2013

    My best tip is to have your house “clean-ish”…vacuum, uncluttered, bathroom sparkly…but don’t deep clean before a party….

    It gets messy during the party and there is nothing worse than a host trying to keep their house clean during a party. It’s stressful for everyone.

    Then, after the party, do a deep clean and YOU and your family get to enjoy it for much longer than you will at a party.

    The other thing I’ve noticed is that when people feel stressed to get their house spotless before a party they work so hard they never want to have a party again. Which is sad because having a welcoming home is such a waste if you never welcome any one in.

  18. anne-sophie heist

    May 31, 2013

    May I know where you got the leftovers stickers from? Or was this a DIY project?

    Thank you!


  19. jackie

    June 1, 2013

    Hi!! I have been following your blog for three years and I absolutely love all your creative ideas. However, I think that you shouldn’t promote using disposable dishes. They are soooo bad for the environment. I’d rather wash dishes for an hour after a party than throw away a bunch of disposable plates. You have a lot of followers and people do replicate your ideas…

  20. Doug

    June 4, 2013

    The cost for renting dishes is about $.65 each plate. Most places will charge extra for returning dirty with food on them. Rise like you would put in dish washer. Return in what they sent them to you in. You can also rent glass wear, silver wear and linens to match and make a real statment.

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