A festive gathering of food and drink, a houseful of guests, excited children and -- if it's like my home -- a very keyed up dog means that a few mishaps are bound to happen. The lovely glass of Bordeaux somehow ends up on the carpet (especially if said carpet happens to be white), and what to do about the candle wax that dripped on the heirloom tablecloth?

Here are some tips from Consumer Reports for dealing with the usual holiday household goofs.

Spilled wine. If you spill wine on carpet or fabric, the first thing you need to do is to blot (not scrub) the affected area with water. Then use a detergent solution made of one teaspoon of a mild clear or white dishwashing liquid -- no bleach -- mixed in one cup of warm water. For red wine, you can then finish by dabbing with 3 per cent strength hydrogen peroxide.

Spilled soda. Blot with the detergent solution. After this, blot with a vinegar cleaning solution made of one-third cup of white vinegar mixed with two-thirds cup of water. Rinse with warm water, and if the area is still not entirely clean, dab with 3 per cent hydrogen peroxide.

White ring marks on wood.
The first step is to blot with an absorbent cloth. Then using a damp cloth, wipe the area to help dissolve the stain. If after drying with a soft cloth, the mark remains, apply a little non-gel toothpaste, or liquid or cream car polish, rubbing with the grain. Wipe again with a dry cloth and polish, if needed.

Lipstick on cloth napkin.
Blot the stained area with acetone-based nail-polish remover. Then try a store-bought cleaning solvent (such as Goo Gone or Afta). If that doesn't work, try the detergent solution, and then rinse.

Candle wax on the tablecloth. The trick for this stain is to pour boiling water through the fabric (make sure it's washable first) from a height of 12 inches. The height increases the velocity of the water, which helps separate the wax from the fibers. If the fabric can't be laundered, sandwich it between paper towels and apply a warm iron.

NEXT: 7 basic steps for stain removal

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Cynthia Ross Cravit