Football season is upon us! Whatever team you’re rooting for, one thing is for certain: It might get messy. Ward off extra cleaning by organizing your home before your guests arrive and taking precautions throughout the day to ensure you aren’t cleaning up more than you have to when the party’s over. Whether you’re hosting a small get-together or creating the ultimate tailgating extravaganza, here are some of our favorite game day tips to keep the party rolling without sopping up a single spill.

Set Yourself Up for Success


Whether you’re hosting a highlight reel of your favorite sports moments or prepping for an end-of-the-season bash, setting yourself up for success is key when tidying your space post-tailgate party. While you can’t control how messy your guests are when the appetizers and drinks are passed around, you can control the forces that affect your home’s overall cleanliness.

For example, make sure your guests know exactly where the trash and recycling bins are located to maintain clean countertops and work surfaces. Another great way to prevent extra messes is by allotting portion sizes before guests arrive. Break appetizers into bite-sized pieces and pour drinks ahead of time so guests won’t have to fiddle with extra cups or serving ware.

Get Comfortable


While some guests will want to stand and cheer the entire party, most will want a comfy place to sit down and socialize. Make sure you have plenty of seating for your guests with sofas and chairs. If you’re lacking space for extra seating, do a little rearranging before your guests arrive. We love moving mixed-and-matched dining chairs into the living room to create a cozy and interesting seating space. Group seats together in twos or threes to promote socialization and make sure you keep side tables or other surfaces nearby so that guests can easily set down their drinks before they jump up and cheer on their team.

Write It Down


You can’t socialize with every guest at every moment during your tailgate party, so make sure they know the house rules and have everything they need at their fingerprints by writing it out. A framed chalkboard is a great way to point guests in the direction of the restroom or the refreshments or let them know the kids are asleep down the hall. Another one of our favorite ways to help guests out is by providing signage via decorative nameplates or food accessories. Let guests with food allergies know to stay away from the dip with a football-themed flag near the serving bowl, or place placards on the refreshment center so guests can mix their own drinks.

Choose Your Location Wisely


If you know your guests can get a bit rowdy during the final seconds of the game, move your party to an area with hard surfaces and easy to clean fabrics or finishes. Don’t let a little spill stop you from enjoying game day by setting the food and drink station atop hardwood or tile flooring, which makes it easy to quickly mop up messes. Make sure you have plenty of easily accessible coasters and napkins for your guests to use, and close off areas of your home where you wouldn’t want to find an empty plate of nachos later on. 

Protect Your Pad


Even if your home comes equipped with durable surfaces, reinforcements are always a good idea. We love using outdoor rugs for the living room when we have guests on their way because they are beautiful and easy to clean. Another great way to protect your hardwood flooring is by cleaning it beforehand, as older spills or dusty corners may cause hazards and result in more spilling or staining. Remember to anchor your rugs and mats and warn guests of areas of your home that may cause tripping (and spilled soda).

Go Green


After the party has ended and your guests have slowly trickled out, chances are you’ll still have a bit of a mess on your hands. Enter eco-friendly cleaning products. Not only are these products safe on your home’s finishes and furnishings, but they are safe to use in case you have little ones or pets roaming around. Green and eco-friendly products are available at most home and convenience stores and can be used on nearly every surface—some are even DIY-able, like using vinegar, water and lemon to clean countertops and smooth surfaces after a messy soda spill.

What are your favorite ways to prevent messes and clean up post-party?

Interior designer Kerrie Kelly knows a lot about keeping homes neat and tidy during tailgating parties, including protecting wood floors from scuffs and spills. Kerry writes on living room decor for The Home Depot. If you are researching wood flooring for your home, you can find a wide selection online at Home Depot.


NEXT: Get more party planning ideas or visit Home Depot for tips on tailgating.