For Easy Holiday Party Cleanup, Use Kitchen Tools That Serve Dual Purposes

Holiday parties are great for reconnecting with friends and family, but this can be difficult when you're the one running the show; Between cooking and cleaning and ensuring everyone's needs are met, party hosts often have little time for conversing with loved ones. An easy way to speed up the holiday party cleanup and get back to the party is to minimize the number of kitchen tools you use. Instead of hauling out every pot, pan, and kitchen device in your arsenal, try using equipment that serves dual purposes. 

For example, when making mashed potatoes, instead of using a potato masher and/or an electric mixer, try using a whisk or a fork to mash your potatoes. If you add some warm milk or cream you should easily be able to mash your potatoes without using a masher or handheld blender, just make sure you boil the potatoes long enough so they are extra soft. You can also save yourself from dirtying another pan by making your gravy right in the roasting pan you used to cook your turkey, chicken, roast beef, or other meat. Using a slow cooker is another great way to keep the mess confined to one dish and prevent your stovetop or oven from becoming splattered with food. They are also great for keeping food warm so your guests can graze throughout the evening. 

More tips for minimizing the cooking mess

Whether you do most of your cleanup during the party (and miss out on the fun), after (when you're dog-tired), or the next morning (when it takes a lot more elbow grease), there's no perfect time to do the dishes. But you can make your holiday meals so much easier if you put a little thought into how you cook. One simple tip is to use both sides of the cutting board instead of grabbing a new one each time you need to chop. Why waste precious space in the dishwasher or time handwashing all those cutting boards when you can quickly rinse off one side and flip it over to cut your other ingredients? However, always use separate cutting boards for raw meat and produce, even after washing, to avoid cross-contamination. 

If you haven't been doing this already, try lining your baking sheets with aluminum foil or parchment paper, especially when making something that leaves a lot of residue or oil behind like roasted vegetables. Then you can just remove the foil and gently rinse the pan if necessary (If you're worried about being wasteful, remember you can always just line your baking sheets when you have a big meal to cook for guests, not necessarily every time you bake). Measuring and mixing your dry ingredients before your wet ones is also a good way to save yourself from having to wash measuring cups and spoons in between uses.

Thoughtful setup for faster cleanup

With a little planning and thoughtful setup, you can host a stress-free holiday party. Festive tablecloths can work double duty by adding to your party decor and making it easier to clean the spills and crumbs on the table; When the party's over, simply shake it out (preferably outside) and put it in the wash. Also, using real china is great for the main course but consider using some disposable items for cups or small plates for dessert. You can use disposable items and do your part for the environment by buying compostable cups made from plant-based materials, corn plastic, or sustainable paper. 

Another way to make things easier as the party host is to have your guests partake in the cleanup without explicitly asking them. For example, it's a good idea to have two garbage bins in plain view labeled "trash" and "recycling" to encourage people to clean up after themselves. Labeling works wonders for big parties; It saves you from having to provide instructions and encourages your guests to do their part without asking. Consider having a dish bin filled with soapy water on the kitchen counter labeled "dirty dishes" so you don't have to clear everyone's plates. You also don't have to play bartender all night; Put a card that says "self-serve" next to a drink station and people will know it's okay to help themselves.