Cleaning up after Christmas and preparing for New Years Eve

Posted on November 24, 2017 by Ash Bennett

You decorated your café for the festive season. You stocked up on party supplies and Christmas decorations. You catered for end-of-year lunches and played carols on a loop.

But now the carols are over. The tinsel has fallen. The fruit cake has turned to crumbs. Christmas is over, and it’s time to clean up.

Don’t despair, though. There’s another party to prepare for—and, with a little strategic reusing, you can minimise the preparation it will involve.

Christmas and New Year’s Eve are so close together that, if you celebrate both, it can take time and hassle to pack up one party and move straight to the next. (Especially if you’ve hosted or catered for multiple Christmas parties throughout December.) Fortunately, the two occasions often overlap in the decorations you use, the factors you consider, how you set up, and how you clean up.

Cleaning up after Christmas

First, the cleanup. It’s easy to dread this part, but it won’t take long if you planned ahead while setting up.


If you used disposable plates and cutlery, all you’ll need to do is throw them away—or recycle them, if you opted for eco-friendly materials. If you went with dishes and metal cutlery, that’s also fine. Washing the dishes afterwards will use staff time that could have gone towards other areas of cleanup, though, so you might want to invest in disposable plates, cups, and utensils for New Year’s Eve.

Paper plates

Similarly, paper napkins and table covers are ideal because you can simply throw them out after use. Where possible, stick to disposables for your party supplies.

Clean as you go

Cleanup is easier if you’ve encouraged customers to tidy after themselves. This doesn’t have to be an obvious message; just make the process effortless for them.

Place bins beside the food tables. Provide small plates for used toothpicks, olive pits, and other small bits of rubbish that customers won’t want to carry around.

If your wait staff situation allows it, have some team members circling the room for used cups, napkins, and plates that might be lying around. This will save you time during cleanup, let you start washing up early if you’ve opted for non-disposables, and give the party a more inviting atmosphere.

Tidying tips

Some of your Christmas decorations may prove tricky to clean up—tinsel, confetti, and streamers, for example. This isn’t to say that you should avoid using them—they’re festive and fun, particularly if customers join in on the confetti throwing. But have a vacuum at the ready, and try to keep the messier decorations away from hard-to-reach corners.

Christmas tinsel

Rather than waste cleanup time on trying to organise all the leftovers and fit them in the fridge, encourage party guests to take home food, or give leftovers to your staff. You’ll prepare a different menu for New Year’s, and the food won’t keep in the meantime. If you have aluminum foil or spare takeaway boxes, this is a good way to put them to use.

Preparing for New Year’s

As with your Christmas party preparation, make sure to plan ahead so you can minimise the cleaning you’ll deal with afterwards. Disposable plates, napkins, cups, and cutlery; paper tablecloths; easy-to-find bins. All these things will make your job easier, particularly if the New Year’s Eve party grows a little wild. With a public holiday following the celebrations, the last thing you want is to deal with messy aftermath.

Reuse your supplies

The key thing to keep in mind while preparing for New Year’s is that you already have many of the supplies you’ll need. Christmas and New Year’s use a lot of the same decorations: confetti, streamers, party poppers, tinsel, ribbons. Both occasions favour bright colours, so you can reuse those gold plates and silver forks.

Rather than store Christmas supplies in a back room to waste away for a year, look at all the supplies you’ve used throughout December and see what you can recycle for the next party. This will make the Christmas cleanup much less painful—and your New Year’s Eve much more fun.

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