What's the best way to streamline WordPress theme development when moving from the dev to some production atmosphere?

To begin with avoid using category ID amounts you need to tie everything to category or tag slug since easily duplicate the slug when designing the brand new category.

        <?php // excludes testimonial category
        $slug = "testimonial";
        $category = get_category_by_slug($slug);
        query_posts($query_string . '&cat=-' .$category->cat_ID);

Take away the - on cat to incorporate a category by slug. Next I simply FTP/SCP the theme up. You might want to consider obtaining a beanstalk account which does deployment for you personally with subversion and git deployment is originating.