I love throwing parties, which is why in some way, shape or form, it happens about once a week. There is, however, one thing about hosting a gathering that I could do without. THE CLEANUP. When my belly is filled with food and spirits after spending all day cooking, the last thing I want to be doing is scrubbing a bunch of pots and pans. Lucky for me, I’ve got friends that have no problem tackling the dishes without me ever having to ask as a “thank you” gesture for the great time they’ve had. But even though it isn’t me scrubbing and soaking, spending an hour cleaning is no way for anyone to end a night.
Here are a few tips I’ve picked along the way that will minimize the amount of mess you face at the end of a great gathering in your home:
Keep the theme casual
There are so many kinds of parties you can throw. Dinner parties are some of my favorites. But by keeping things casual, you leave your guests with the ability to move around. They are not tethered to any one spot in your home, which will have them hoping for my next suggestion.
Using paper/plastic goods
By informing your guests the party you are throwing is a casual one, you will want plates, cups and cutlery that can be easily carted around and discarded. Avoiding the use of glass and silverware will allow your guests to indulge and enjoy the relaxed atmosphere without worrying about breaking something. Most importantly, this cuts the amount of cleanup waiting for you at the end of the night exponentially.
Keep an empty garbage bin accessible
If your guests can see where the garbage bin is, they will be more inclined to dispose of their plates and such themselves instead of leaving them about the space. That is not to say doing a periodic sweep of your home isn’t necessary. A walkthrough here and there will allow you to pick up anything that belongs in the garbage, minimizing whatever mess might be left for you later.
Make sure your dishwasher is empty before the party starts
Too many times, I have thrown parties, cooked all day, accumulated dishes in the sink and went to load the dishwasher only to find it filled with dishes. This not only will halt your progress with your cooking, it will cause a backup of any dishes that are not disposable. If you have a dishwasher, make sure it is empty by the time your guests arrive. And if you don’t, disposable goods are the way to go!
If you’ve got an outdoor grill, use it
My husband makes fun of the way I cook and eat. I do them both “with zest,” which pretty much always results in me making a mess wherever I’m performing either tasks. By using an outdoor grill, you are bringing any potential for a mess away from the kitchen, which is so often the heart of every party. You are also imparting a flavor to your food that cannot be replicated anywhere else.
Find a happy aesthetic medium with the serving dishes you decide to use
While using paper and plastic goods will diminish your time cleaning in your kitchen after the party is over, they are not always an option for when it is time to serve the dishes you make. A great balance is using things like recyclable aluminum trays to store the food you are going to grill. Use them to house your raw meat or veggies while you season them. Discard the trays once your food hits the grill and use more aesthetically pleasing serving platters for the finished dishes. And as you finish with each of the platters, if you don’t wash them right away, rinse them out immediately. This makes washing them later a breeze!
If all you are left with at the end of the night are 10 or so dishes and serving utensils, then pat yourself on the back. You have officially defeated that annoying cleanup monster that always seems to be waiting for us at the end of every gathering, leaving you with even more stress-free time to spend with your guests!