How to trick your guests into helping with party cleanup

If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my 28 years of life, it’s that people are inconsiderate slobs.

What happens when you gather a group of inconsiderate slobs together for a holiday party? A damn mess happens, that’s what. First they eat all of your pigs in blankets, and then they grind tiny remnants of pastry crumbs into your shag carpeting. It’s a hostessing nightmare, and it’s a grave injustice.

Seriously, I’ve put a lot of thought into how hostesses can right this wrong, and here are a few ideas I’ve stored in my brain locker. You can thank me later.

Work the contract angle

Use a guest book with fine print at the bottom that states, “By signing this guest book, I verify that I will clean up after my grown-up self, or else incur a small fee for professional cleaning services.” As people remove their shoes for the party, surreptitiously hold them as a type of collateral on their contract.

Fake a grave injury

As the party winds down, make an announcement that you suddenly need to chop a few carrots. Place Clorox Disinfecting Wipes on your countertop before beginning, and as you chop, smash a ketchup packet with your knife and run out of the room screaming. Surely someone will wipe down that countertop for you.

Cover surfaces in plastic wrap

Take a cue from your grandma and coat all of your surfaces in plastic wrap to prevent ugly stains. Guests will grow so frustrated with the plastic that they will rip it off the couches with disgust by the end of the night, thereby straightening your home’s surfaces.

Throw a recycling party

Hooray for fun with recycling! Make your next party a themed one, and carry the theme into little passive-aggressive placards for all tables and countertops. The placards could say, “Unless you hate our planet like I thought you might when I invited you, sort your garbage into the recycling bin.” There’s nothing wrong with a little guilt trip.

Encourage impromptu relay races

Relay races are the stuff of childhood legend, so spice up your party with a lighthearted relay race. Split your guests into two teams, and start them at one end of your house with a vacuum cleaner. Whichever team completes a back-and-forth sweep of your house first wins the prize.

Start a hilarious food fight

At the end of the night, yell, “Food fight!” as you run out of the house and throw leftover scraps into your compost bin. Hilarious.

Break down and buy plastic plates

Unfortunately, and despite my best brainstorming, plastic plates and cutlery are the best way to ensure a clean house at the end of your party. Refuse to feel guilty about destroying our planet with plastic plates. You can blame the inconsiderate slobs, anyway.

More hostessing tips

Our guide to knowing exactly how much to serve at a party
This value conversion chart belongs in your home kitchen
3 Non-soup French onion recipes that are perfect for game day