The point of cleaning your house for a party should not be to impress your guests; rather it should be to make them feel comfortable and welcome. If you are throwing parties to impress people, I promise you this is not the blog for you. My goal here is to help you enjoy throwing parties that build community among those important to you.
Before the party: Yes, clean your house before a party, but do your closets need to be organized for your guests? NO! Many people avoid throwing parties because the cleaning stresses them out. I clean the areas that my guests will be in.
In the kitchen, I clear the clutter (blender, utensil hold, dish strainer) off my counters. I make sure my stove top and oven window are clean; people do not want to eat food cooked in a dirty place
The bathroom needs to be as clean as possible for obvious reasons. Toothpaste spatter on the mirror and run away hairs on the counter are gross. End. of. story. I always put away what we do not want our guests to use or see. I always put our toothbrushes and waterpik in the closet. I make sure the floor, tub and toilet have been scrubbed. I put our bath bath towels away and display only hand towels for their use. I make sure there is enough visible toilet paper so guests do not have to go on a search and open cabinets where I have hidden my toothbrushes and boxes of tampons.
Party spaces should be clean and festive, but take into consideration that these will get messy again. I have hardwood floors which I clean regularly. For a party, I just vacuum them. I do not scrub and wax them because I am just going to have to do that again the next day after everyone has worn their shoes, spilled wine and dropped food. While I take care of my floors of the reg, I do not dust. But for parties, I always dust. First, some people are hypersensitive to it. Second, no one wants to eat in a place with cobwebs on the wall nor do they want to grab a wine glass from a dusty shelf. Similar to what I do in the kitchen, I do in these spaces- declutter. The book that is always on the end table next to my reading chair, gets put away. The stack of mail, gets hidden. I take the dog bed that is in our living room, and put it in a room that the party will not be in--this is a for my guests but also my pup--he may want to retreat to a quiet space after saying hello to everyone. Basically, anything my guests see is party related or functionally necessary.
During party cleaning is a hell no. First, maybe this is why people hate throwing parties. If you are cleaning, you are not partying. The host sets the tone for the party, so if the host is stressed and preoccupied the guests will be as well. If the host is relaxed and jovial, so will be the guests. Second, when people see you cleaning, they feel obligated to help you clean, so now you invited people over to clean? Make sure there are trash cans and recycling bins around so people can see them. Most adults clean up after themselves. A few empty beer bottles on the table is not going to ruin anything. As Elsa says, "let it go." If your party is big enough or if you do not want trash cans around, HIRE someone to do this. This is not tacky or ostentatious. These professionals will make your guests feel far more welcome than you running around and picking up their plates. Plus this person will also help you replenish your food and keep the drinks flowing. It is worth it.
After party cleaning is the worst. There is no way around this. If it is a late night party, I only do what is necessary to not be gross or destructive before I go to bed. This means wrap up the food, make sure the fire or candles out and bring in any electronics we took outside. Then I go to bed and save the rest for the morning (or afternoon depending on how late that party went). But yes, next day clean up sucks. You are tired and possibly hung over. If you are me, you have moved furniture a bit and hidden your coffee pot which you desperately need first thing in the a.m. However as I move about the house, dumping half empty beer bottles and trying to identify the owner of left behind belongings, I think about all of the moments I helped create the night before and I smile; then I get out the Swifter.
I write this blog to combine my 2 favorite things- writing and partying. I believe parties are meant to bring people together for fun, and really nothing else.