“‘Tis the season to be jolly” tra-la-la-la-la… That’s all very well, but when you have a house full of guests and you develop toilet problems it’s really difficult to stay jolly. Here are some of the things that can happen in a busy household during the festivities, and ways you can avoid them. And if the worst comes to the worst, you’ll need to have emergency plumbing contractors on speed dial to help you out of a tight spot.

Fiasco #1: Blockages

This is every hostess’s nightmare—that the toilet will block up just when you have 20 people over for Christmas lunch. Prevent a blocked toilet by cleaning and flushing your toilet thoroughly with strong bleach before the time, to ensure that there isn’t anything lurking that might take exception to the occasion. Put out toilet tissue that you know works with your particular toilet, and if you know it can be temperamental then put up a comical sign on the back of the door saying “three wipes and flush” or something similar.

Fiasco #2: The Human Factor

The human factor is a major problem for festive toilet fiascos. Ranging from relatives with too much holiday wine to young children using the facilities unsupervised, anything can—and probably will—land up in the toilet if you aren’t careful. We aren’t suggesting you decorate the entire room with signage, but if you know some of your guests are from out of town where perhaps the toilets work differently, post a note asking them not to dispose of anything besides toilet tissue and organic matter into the bowl. You can tactfully suggest they keep an eye on their kids or appoint an older child or two to do so. New Christmas toys in the toilet are certain to cause plumbing problems.

Fiasco #3: Food Disposal

Plumbers in Toronto have seen everything in their time, right down to a homeowner who flushed a whole chicken into the toilet in an effort to get rid of it. If you have thoughtful guests helping out with the clean-up after the meal, make sure they know where to dispose of the garbage. The old idea of flushing solid food waste into the toilet just doesn’t cut it with the new modern, low-flush units, and disposing of it this way is a fast-track to needing emergency plumbing.

Fiasco #4: Tipsy Tarts

When the wine is flowing freely, anyone large using the toilet who is slightly tipsy can tilt it off its footprint to the point that it falls over. If you have tipsy tarts in your party, keep an eye on them and warn them (or their Significant Other) if your toilet is a bit loose on the base. Falling over could not only damage the toilet but the head of the faller, too.

Keep the mood festive and the party going by taking note of any potential emergency plumbing problems—before, during and after the event.