After a Party

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Day-After Cleaning Up
If you have enough energy, by all means clean the entire house before you go to bed. However, most hosts will find they are exhausted after they finish the mandatory cleanup. Don't feel guilty for putting off everything else until the next day. You just gave a party for 50 people—it's time for you to relax!

The next day, however, you will need to buckle down and dispose of your mess. Don't worry—it's not that hard.

Begin by tackling your décor and any other items you bought or borrowed specifically for the party. On your table (or another large, horizontal surface), place three containers: the bin you use for your party closet, as well as two large bins for items you borrowed and items your guests left behind:

  • In your party closet bin, store anything you can use for your next party, such as unused paper plates, utensils, cups, napkins, balloons, candles, or other décor.
  • In one of the empty boxes or bins, place anything your guests left behind, including the items you collected last night. As you tidy your house, you're bound to find a few more things—lipsticks, cell phones, keys—under the sofa cushions. Stash these items in the lost-and-found box as you unearth them.
  • In the last box, place any items you borrowed for the party. By locating these things in one box, you can later stash it in the trunk of your car for easy return.
Work through your house, room by room, collecting and sorting anything that doesn't belong and tossing any trash you missed the night before. Use your three bins, and stay on the lookout for any CDs, books, or magazines that wandered into other rooms of the house.

After you've cleared your home of any party items, take a look around the front and back yards, picking up and putting away anything you brought out for the party. Toss any garbage.

Next, clean the kitchen. If you followed my grandmother's adage and cleaned while you cooked, your job will be easy. However, because few inexperienced cooks are able to prepare a huge meal and clean up after it at the same time, don't feel too bad if your kitchen looks like, well, a kitchen exploded in it. Begin with the dirty dishes, and move on to the countertops, appliances, and floors.

After you've cleared the debris away and cleaned your kitchen, sweep the floors and empty the trashcans in every room. Pay special attention to the area under the tree, where your guests bashed the piñata, which should be covered with a layer of toys and piñata entrails.

At this point, your house should be looking pretty good. Because you cleaned it before the party, you're really only removing the layer of trash that accumulated the day before. If you feel like cleaning the whole house again, have at it. Personally, I think it would be more fun to relax with a leftover margarita, but that's just me.

Thanking Your Guests
When you're finished cleaning up after your guests, it's time to thank them. Although it might seem strange to thank someone for attending a party on which you spent so much time, effort, and money, sending out a thank-you email is a nice touch that will bring your party-planning full circle. Really, is it possible to be too polite?

Remaining Realistic
Thanking all your guests is only realistic if you use email, especially after a party for 50 people. Compose a brief message, thanking your guests for making your party a wonderful event, and send it to everyone who attended. As you compose your email, don't be self-congratulatory. Your guests don't need to be reminded that you hosted a fabulous party. The point of sending this email is to give your guests a warm, fuzzy feeling as they remember what a great time they had. Try to send out this email the day after your party.

Caution: not many people enjoy having their email address displayed for 50 other people, even if they did just spend the evening partying with them. Remember to use the BCC function on your email program, which will hide the addresses of everyone receiving the email.

Disposing of Other People's Stuff
Before you send your email message, take a look through your lost-and-found box. If you see anything that seems especially valuable, such as purses, keys, wallets, or cell phones, add a note to your thank-you message, letting your guests know you found several things that they might want back. Hopefully, you'll receive return messages claiming all the left-behind items.

Send an additional email message to anyone who loaned you something they didn't take home with them, such as the sombreros or CDs from your Mexican Fiesta, asking the best time and method for returning these items to their owners. Don't expect your guests to return for these items; courteously ask them for their preferences in getting their items back to them.

Thanking Your Helpers
Turn off your computer and get out some thank-you notes: You'll need to send a card to several kind souls, including

  • Anyone who brought you a hostess gift, including bottles of wine or tequila. You do not need to send a note to folks who brought beer, as this "gift" was requested on the invitation.
  • Anyone who performed an extraordinary act of kindness, such as going to the store for you and refusing to accept reimbursement.
  • Anyone who helped you with something awkward during the party, such as those who helped babysit intoxicated guests or helped you deal with a potentially disastrous situation.
  • Anyone who spent more than 15 minutes helping you with tasks you really should have completed before the guests arrived.
  • Anyone who loaned you several items, especially if those items were critical to the success of your party.
Sending handwritten thank-you notes might seem old-fashioned, but it's a really nice touch. You don't need to write more than a sentence or two (ever wonder why thank-you notes are so small?), just thank your helpers for their efforts. Send out these notes within three days of your party.

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More on: Pop Culture

Reproduced from Plan a Fabulous Party In No Time, by Tamar Love, by permission of Pearson Education. Copyright © 2005 by Que Publishing.

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