6 Homegating Cleanup Tips

A dish towel, a football, and a spray bottle sitting on a blue background

Fall at our house means football season, and football season means tailgating. There’s nothing better than tailgating or homegating with friends and family before you cheer on your favorite team together. After the big game is over, there’s nothing you’re going to want to do less than clean up. Use these six quick tips to make homegate cleanup a breeze.

Hand it Off

Stock up on storage containers and give them out to your guests toward the end of the game. Encourage your guests to fill them up with food on their way out. Having less food leftover saves you room in the fridge and saves you time putting it all away.

Go for Two

If possible, put out two different trashcans – one right by the food and one closer to the TV. If people see a trash can, they’re more likely to actually throw things away rather than leaving half-full water bottles all over the ground and plates full of mostly eaten food on their chair. And they’re more likely to throw things away quickly, which helps to avoid unwanted spills.

Drive Away From the Dishes

Cleanup is so much easier if you use paper or plastic goods rather than the real stuff. Everyone can just throw their dishes away once they’re done, and you don’t have to spend all night washing plates, cups and the dreaded silverware. Just make sure to use good quality paper goods that will withstand the typical hearty food you find at tailgates and homegates.

Protect the Goods

Tailgates and homegates are known for messy food whether it’s loaded tater tots, chili or even just a good old-fashioned hot dog. Messy food can wreak havoc on your favorite tablecloth, linens and furniture. Even though it may not be as pretty, I recommended adding a layer of plastic or spill protection to anything you really care about. One of my favorite tricks for a party table is to layer a clear plastic tablecloth to the top so it’s protected from spills but still has the pretty color visible underneath the clear.

Go On the Offensive

If you’re not too interested in the game, start cleaning up with a few minutes left. Not only will you be more likely to get other people to offer to help, but you’ll also be able to avoid those random spills because someone left their half-full drink sitting on the ground and it got kicked over as people were walking out. The most messes tend to happen when the game is over and people are in a hurry to get home, so just avoid it by collecting trash and glasses toward the end of the game.

Bring in the Special Teams

One of my favorite party tips is to accept help from anyone who offers it, in the way that works best for you. If you’re particular about the table settings or the food you’re serving, don’t ask people to bring things, ask them to help clean up after the party. You get to set things up just how you want and have a team to help you take it all down!