Tidying up after a large party can feel overwhelming. Structure your efforts with these easy tips.
House Keeping: Celebration clean-up
Air the whole house
Start by opening the windows and doors to get rid of stale party air and food odours. Plump up cushions on your sofas. Take any rugs outside, if possible, and beat them to get rid of dust.
Collect the empties
Using a tray, move from room to room, gathering all empty glasses, plates and cutlery. It might be helpful to carry a bucket with you to tip any remaining liquids into to avoid spillages. Soak all soiled cutlery in a sink full of warm, soapy water to loosen food residue before washing and wash up all fragile glasses by hand to avoid any breakages. Leave to drip dry, then polish gently with a clean, dry tea towel to prevent smears before packing away.
Pick up the rubbish
Paper plates, party poppers, balloons, food debris, wrapping paper from gifts - there's sometimes a lot of litter left over after a party. Grab a bin bag and work your way from room to room picking up everything that can be recycled or chucked out. Put the bin bags outside straight away to create space and prevent lingering odours.
Do the laundry
Gather up soiled tablecloths, guests' bedding and towels. When they're washed, dried and ironed, store Christmas linens in your airing cupboard or inside a sealed plastic crate or storage trunk to minimise the risk of moisture damage. Layer them with tumble drier sheets and pine or cedar scented sachets. Keep matching napkins and cloths together and tie with ribbon. Similarly, store guest towels in bales and keep each with guest bed linen set together so you can quickly grab what you need next time visitors arrive.
Take the tree down
Remove all your tree decorations carefully in reverse order to how you put them on. If you have a real tree, place an old sheet on the floor, then carefully lower your tree down and lie it on the sheet so that the pine needles are contained. Wrap the tree in the sheet tightly and secure with string, then twist each end and carry or drag it outside so you can take it to be recycled. If you have an artificial tree, consider buying a drawstring Christmas tree bag (available at Lakeland) as a cardboard box takes up more precious space and will deteriorate over time.
Move all occasional furniture out of the way and vacuum the house thoroughly, room by room. Pay particular attention to the kitchen area where holiday cooking means crumbs can accumulate, the hallway where guests coming and going will mean there's extra grit and dust to get rid of, and the area underneath your tree where pine needles and dust collect. Use a brush attachment to vacuum sofas and armchairs, too, where debris and pet hair can gather.
Wipe down surfaces
Use a damp microfibre cloth and a mild multi-surface spray to get rid of sticky residue from drinks on tables, work-tops and sideboard surfaces. Buff dry with a clean lint-free cloth after wiping for a streak-free finish.
Mop the floors
Starting in the farthest corner of the farthest room, mop all hard flooring with a mild detergent solution to get rid of paw prints, sticky spills and grime. Choose a microfiber mop head, if possible, to pick up every last bit of dirt.
Stain Removal Instructions
Spilt drinks and food is inevitable at a party - but often it's only the next day that you notice the tell-tale marks on your carpet, napkins or soft furnishings. Don't panic - just follow our handy guide to banishing common party stains.
Candle wax Scrape away excess wax with a blunt knife. Place a piece of kitchen towel or an absorbent paper napkin on to the affected area and rub it gently with a warm iron. The paper should absorb the melted wax. Soak a cloth in methlyated spirits and dab at any residue before washing with a damp cloth. Leave to dry.
Lipstick Put washing-up liquid on the affected area and rub vigorously, then wash using warm water.
Red wine Rinse the area with fizzy water, then wash with a mild detergent and a clean cloth. If the stain remains, bleach with lemon juice or a little toothpaste but be careful as this can leave a white mark on some fabrics - perform a spot test elsewhere first.
Fruit or fruit juice Cover the stain with salt and leave for a few minutes to work. Then rinse with water and wash with a mild detergent and a clean cloth.
Coffee and tea Rinse the area with cool clean water then rub with a clean cloth and laundry detergent but not soap. If a mark remains, mix a mild acidic solution of two parts water and one part vinegar, then rub with this. Rinse and dry.
How to store decorations
Avoid tangles and broken baubles - store your Christmas decorations safely so they don't take up too much storage space and are easy to access next year. Take down your decorations in the reverse order that you put them up and label all storage containers and boxes clearly to make life a little easier next year. Put all the items you'll need first - such as your card hanging kit, advent calendars and tree stand, etc, in a box that's clearly labelled "1" and so on.
Baubles Place glass baubles in a cardboard tube then seal ends with tape. Alternatively, store them in boxes filled with in-drawer sock dividers (Ikea's Komplement clothes storage insert is perfect) or empty egg cartons.
Fairy lights Wrap lights around a large, rectangular piece of cardboard to prevent tangles. Tape a bag filled with spare bulbs, etc, to the cardboard. Put the whole lot in a sealed plastic bag to keep it dust-free and prevent moisture damage.