dessertPlanning a child’s birthday party can be a lot of fun for both you and the kids. You get to pick out a theme, go shopping for presents, and pick out a delicious food and dessert option.

While the birthday party itself may be a blast, the clean up afterward can be quite tiresome, especially if the food your child wants is extremely messy. However, there are ways to throw your child a mess-free birthday party. Here’s what you need to do.

Before you do anything else, you need to decide how many children will be invited to the party. Children four or five-years-old will typically have a good time with three to 13 of their friends. Ultimately, however, the decision is up to you. The more kids you invite, the messier your home will be. If you invite more than 20 kids, you're going to need to figure out a way to keep them all entertained at all times. If you think you're up to the challenge, you need to remember that 20 kids will not fit easily in the typical living room. You may have a backyard where the kids can hang out during the party, which will help cut back on the mess inside of your home.

When planning the food, the theme, and the activities, make sure you’re doing so with clean-up in mind. If your child wants an ice cream buffet, prepare the table with disposable ice cream cups to hold the dessert, disposable tasting spoons to eat the dessert, and lids so children can safely carry ice cream cake wherever they roam. There are about 1.5 billion gallons of ice cream and similar desserts produced in the United States every year, but it only takes a few drops to leave a lasting stain. With the right clean-up preparation, the ice cream bar will be a hit for everyone, even you.

If you plan on having the party at home, make sure you empty the party space before children come in. If you have any personal belongings or fragile items that you would hate to see destroyed, then consider moving those to another room temporarily. You should also consider removing any carpet or area rugs you have in the party space so you don’t have to worry about it getting stained or dirty.

During the party, try and pick up as much as possible in the moment. For example, if you’re serving pizza, use disposable plates and throw them out as soon as the children are done eating. By cleaning up what you can while the party is going on, you’re going to have less to pick up after it’s over.

Kids birthday parties can be a lot of fun, but they can be even more enjoyable if you’re prepared for the post-party clean-up. By taking the steps listed above for a mess-free party, you’re not going to have as much to worry about and you will be able to sit back and enjoy the party.