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Hosts cleaning up/doing dishes while guests still around?


I was wondering if more people feel the same as I do about this situation:
We are a group of about 3-5 families who meet for dinner about once in 1-2 months, with 1 family hosting it. It is pretty informal, we've known each other for years, our kids are in the 3-14 year range. Just meet, talk, socialize, maybe a movie in the background, and kids playing by themselves, mostly. These last from around 7:30 - 11:00 pm or so.
There are 1 or 2 houses, where the hostess, after dinner & drinks & dessert, get their kitchen in spic& span shape, all dishes in the dishwasher, sink clean & scrubbed. all food in the refrigerator, garbage bag changed, glasses/cans picked up from everywhere etc.

During all this cleanup, in which the hostess sometimes has her hubby help her too,
we are relaxing/talking to the other guests. I feel I would rather they do the basic cleanup, like putting away some food, clearing the table, and soaking the dishes etc, say a quick 15-20 min effort and then socialize/ be with the guests. When the hosts are finally ready to sit down with us, it is really late,and kids really need to get home which is 30 min away.

I leave the major cleaning till the guests leave. They make sure the house is such that they can lock the door behind the guests and go straight to bed. I say, if that is how they do it, fine, but I will leave when we need to but that upsets the hosts.
Is it the norm that detailed cleanup gets done when guests are still around ?


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  1. It depends. At our house when we have dinner guests, some seem to gravitate to the kitchen and some toward the den. If they're kitchen types we clean up, if not we don't.

    1. I clean as I cook. Maybe if you volunteer to help it can get done faster and you can socialize while cleaning up.

      1. i am one of those compulsive i have to get the kitchen squared away types. i suspect it is a symptom of Type A itis and neat freak itis. my wife prefers to let the mess stay until the guests leave. the wife BTW just cant prepare even a simple meal without turning things upside down in the kitchen.

        1 Reply
        1. re: MarkG

          Honey, is that you? My husband would say the same thing about us! He NEEDS to get up and do the dishes after dinner. Of course I have dirtied every single pot and dish while cooking, not to mention not emptied the dishwasher. But our table is in the kitchen so he continues talking to everyone throughout the clean up. I, on the other hand, think it rushes the evening and would rather enjoy the meal and company and let dishes sit until guests are gone.

        2. Our family gets together with a few other families for Christmas Eve dinner every year. We all know each other really well, and as dinner is done, we all stay in the kitchen and clean up. Usually my dad and I do the majority of the cleaning, while my mom prepares the dessert, but everyone helps by drying dishes and putting things away -- and if they aren't helping, they're there in the kitchen, talking. Could you make arrange it so you are in the same room as the busy cleaners? Then you can relax, hang out, and they can still clean up everything. Also, cleaning while cooking is a great idea -- maybe you could model it for them the next time they're over...be all sneaky about it!

          1. it's their house. they're nice enough to have a bunch of people over. offer to help, or stop being annoyed and enjoy the other guests. some people can't relax if their kitchen is a mess.

            1. Our kitchen and dining area are one big room. Our dinner parties usually consist of us plus one or two other couples. I am a neat freak and my husband is not. However, my job is meal planning and execution and his job is dishes, so after dessert while we are enjoying after dinner drinks he gets up and starts doing dishes. No one seems to mind and guests are free to help, or not, as they choose -- we don't put pressure on anyone either way, but he doesn't want to bid people goodby at 11 p.m. and then have another hour of dishes after that -- and he's kind enough to recognize that it would bother me to leave everything until morning. We are very casual about it. It usually takes him 30 minutes and he continues to take part in the conversation that's occurring. So under the circumstances you are describing (and given my own personal pecadillos) I don't see anything wrong with your friends cleaning up.

              1. I don't see the big deal. It's not as if they've left you sitting alone while they have run into the kitchen to avoid you. Like the noodle said, it's their house, accept the hostessing however it comes. It never would occur to me to be bothered by this.

                1. In my house it has always been customary for everyone who enjoyed the meal to help clean up, we do it at their house, altho' there are those that can't stand to have anyone helping them (type-As).. and if you clean as you go there aren't that many dishes left to do. Usually we have had a bit to drink and will put on some tunes... ala "Big Chill"

                  1. I feel more prepared to relax and socialize if I have done some of the basic cleanup. The big stuff can wait.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: mamaciita

                      I'm with mamacita on this one. I usually try to do as much cleanup as I can before our guests arrive. That is, I try to clean up any prep stuff, run and empty the dishwasher, put away unused food, etc.

                      But, our major consideration is space. We don't have a huge dining room nor a large kitchen. At some point (depending on the numbers of guests, but say a dinner party for 8 people total) we have to do some clean up to have enough space to stage the next course (usually dessert...we get through the meal to that point without much trouble). If I've set up well, there are only a few pots/pans around and I'd categorize those as "big stuff" a la mamacita. The plates/flatware and any glasses that are done being used can all get tossed right into the dishwasher.

                      As has also been noted, some guests naturally gravitate to the kitchen. Some also insist on helping with clean up. In those cases, its pretty easy and natrual to just sort of idly work on cleaning up while chatting and taking a break before dessert.

                      Bottom line though, if someone has been nice enough to host a dinner...if they want to spend some time cleaning up, they should go right ahead, I'll just offer to help.

                    2. I do no cleanup until the guests leave. Then my husband and I pour one more glass, clean up and talk about the evening together. I actually look forward to this time! When I'm at a home where the host is cleaning up, I feel very unwelcome. I consider it quite rude and inhospitable.

                      15 Replies
                      1. re: mirage

                        If I were left alone to wait for them to return, I might consider them to be rude, but usually, I just ask if I can help. Sometimes, cleaning up in the kitchen can be fun when you spend the time yammering with your friends.

                        If it were a group of guests, as the OP indicated, this behavior wouldn't bother me. It is possible that they can't wait for their guests to leave and then spend an hour cleaning in the kitchen. I think it is rude for people to assume that their hosts have all the time in the world to clean after they have left for the night.

                        I like to clean up right after dinner is over. I am not comfortable with a mess on the table. I weigh each situation. If my guests are entertained, either by keeping me company in the kitchen or by talking amongst themselves, I will try to clean up quickly (maybe not getting out the scrub brushes and mops, but at least filling the dishwasher, putting food away and clearing off the table).

                        Bottom line, it just depends on the situation.

                        1. re: mirage

                          I can't imagine anything more precious than spending time with your guests while they are in your home -- talking, connecting, hearing about their lives, becoming closer...

                          Quickly rinse the dishes, and be with your guests. The dishes will wait. The great opportunity that exists is to develop or deepen your friendship with people you enjoy. Don't miss the chance to experience this joy and enhance your life. A clean kitchen pales in comparison.

                          1. re: maria lorraine

                            While a lovely sentiment, our guests are generally people we see at least once a week on average. Saturday we had 13 people over and all of them we had seen either the night before or the previous Saturday night. Our party started at 5 and lasted to nearly midnight. I make no apologies for not wanting to face 7 hours of party cleanup at midnight. Now, if these were guests out of town or someone we see infrequently I see where your argument makes sense.

                            1. re: Janet from Richmond

                              7 hours of party cleanup for a party of 15? Is this a typo?

                              1. re: Jeanne

                                I wondered the same thing, Jeanne! Doesn't make sense, cuz if you disappear for 7 hrs right after eating....why have people over at all?

                                1. re: JaneRI

                                  I didn't phrase it well. I don't want to face at midnight the clean up from 7 hours of partying.

                                  1. re: Janet from Richmond

                                    Gotcha! And I can understand that. But I would do the must-dos....load dishwasher, clean up obvious messes. And the rest could wait til the next day.

                                    1. re: JaneRI

                                      Yes - my objective after a dinner party is usually to fill up my tiny dishwasher and run it, get the food put away, and rinse any dishes that didn't fit in the dishwasher. If I'm feeling ambitious, I put the linens to soak in the washing machine to help eradicate any stains. The rest can wait until morning - when the mess actually bothers me and I do a quick tear through to get it all cleaned up.

                                      1. re: JaneRI

                                        Neither hubby nor I are "wait until the next day" people. Even when I moved, I unpack everything that day so my first morning in my new place it feels like home. Saturday night we had 6 people over for dinner and I loaded up the dishwasher right after the meal and then when everyone left I finished the kitchen while hubby Windexed (we have glass tables) and vacuumed.

                                        1. re: Janet from Richmond

                                          Neither hubby nor I are "wait until the next day" people.


                                          That's your business......but if it was to the point where you left your guests to their own devices while you scrubbed down your kitchen for an hour, most people would not consider you a good host. It's your right to do it, and it's the right of your guests to think it's rude. But you waited until your guests left.

                                          1. re: JaneRI

                                            Not being flippant (at all) but we have this same group of people over for dinner/drinks 3 times a month on average and spend $1500-$2000 month on these events. And no one lifts a finger aside from Hubby and me, so if they think it's rude, that is there issue IMO. It is not uncommon for me to spend 10+ hours from beginning to end and if I can make clean up easier, I make no apologies for it.

                                            1. re: Janet from Richmond

                                              Hi Janet, maybe cleanup isn't your most pressing problem. Are the other group members inviting you to their houses as frequently and contributing as much as you to the relationship? Something makes me think you may become unhappy with things if that's not the case. If it was me, I'd dial back the frequency of the get-togethers at my house - but I'm generally happier seeing people less frequently, being a believer in absence making the heart grow fungus, etc. BTW, I don't think you're being flippant. I hope you solved your problem from 7 years ago.

                                              Best regards,


                            2. re: mirage

                              While I would agree that this is the most socially graceful way to deal with it and how I would deal with it when hosting a dinner party but the OP said they have 3-5 families and rotate the host location.

                              That's a lot of people. Instead of making it a ton of work on the host it would seem a nice system for the families to work together to help clean up.

                              There can be a lot of socializing as they clean and it wouldn't take so long so they could all retire together for relaxation and more socialization before it's time to say goodbyes.

                              The hosts can go to bed without a messy kitchen or have to stay up late when they are tired and clean the kitchen.

                              1. re: scubadoo97

                                I entertain a lot and usually I get offers to help. Of course, I have an open style home where the kitchen, dining room and living room are essentially one big room, so it is very easy to socialize while cleaning up. But I still leave the nitty-gritty to the next morning. To each their own, but if entertaining is just an expensive chore, I wouldn't do it.

                              2. re: mirage

                                I completely agree. It just happened to me the other night and I felt as though i was being given the message to go home (though I think the hosts were just not well socialized).

                                I think the hosts should put away the perishables, clear the table of dishes, and focus less on the dirty dishes, which can wait, and more on the guests.

                              3. I clean up right after dinner. I am in the camp of "can't relax until the kitchen is in order". Also because our friends tend to stay late, I'd be midnight+ working in the kitchen and it's hard enough for me to stay awake after 10 or so. The way I look at it is I have the expense and work of hostessing, cut me some slack.

                                1. Sorry. . .guess I'm a little OCD but I too have to clean up after dinner/dessert, I can't relax until the kitchen is clean. I don't think any of my guests have ever been offended? My kitchen opens up into our family room so it's not like I'm secluded in there. There are few things worse than having to wake up the morning after entertaining and face a kitchen full of dishes. . .yuck.

                                  1. I don't mind if other people clean their kitchens while we're there, and am most happy to help, but we never do that when we entertain. We'd rather leave it and visit with our guests and deal with it after everyone has gone home. We also don't let our guests help. It's just easier and faster for the two of us to do it since the kitchen is tiny and crowded enough with just the two of us.

                                    But - we don't have kids. Listening to my friends talk who do have them, they're understandably tired most of the time and I can easily see wanting to get the KP done and forgotten about while guests are entertaining each other. That way, when the evening is done, they can collapse into bed and don't have a daunting pile of dishes to deal with when the house clears out.

                                    1. If the host has decided to send the message "Get Out Of My House, You Have Overstayed Your Welcome!" then cleaning the kitchen is a great way to go. But I think that if you feel that strongly it would probably be kinder to simply tell your guests that you have to be up really early in the morning and need to call it a night - that would be less rude than cleaning the kitchen while they're still visiting.

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: Kater

                                        I would definitely take it as a sign that it's time to head home. I have a tiny open kitchen and have learned to live with the mess, especially if I've had 10 people over. I've adjusted what I cook so that the kitchen is spic and span (well, almost) when guests arrive, and then do a quick rinse and put the dishes in the dishwasher before I serve dessert - mostly so that I have room to serve to dessert. But I wouldn't start cleaning up until the guests left, and that probably amounts to finishing filling up the dishwasher, running it, and putting water in the wine glasses to soak until the next day!

                                        1. re: MMRuth

                                          That is how my daughters kitchen is, a tiny open kitchen, and it drives her and her husband crazy to just stack dishes, and leave it for later. They do as you do, Ruth. They rinse what they can, load in dishwasher, and leave the large pans for later. I join in, and box up the leftovers. Doesn't take a lot of time, and we can still converse with the others since there is no door between us.

                                          At my house if the guest want to retire to the living room, then I rinse and leave in the kitchen, but I can shut the door. If they are joiners then they jump in to help and everyone just hangs out in the kitchen while we do this. I have a pretty large kitchen, so they can stay in there and visit with us who are cleaning. I don't think it's rude, and no one has ever complained.

                                      2. We belong to a dinner club of about 10 people who meet at each other's houses. No kids though - - why are little kids at a dinner party until 11 anyway?! . Depending on how late the group stays, I notice that some people sometimes begin the cleanup with guests still there. I can't imagine letting that annoy me. In fact, I know certain people/couples who just simply don't know when its time to leave. I think that's rather rude in itself. Some of us have to get up and work the next day! Chill!

                                        1. i think it depends on how formal or informal the gatherings are. in a more formal situation, i believe it is rude. but in your situation, it sounds like it's a regular, casual event so i don't think there's anything wrong with the host cleaning up after dinner.

                                          to each his own, right?

                                          1. If you're all good friends and this is a casual dinner with kids present, I think you should all help clean up, then all sit down and enjoy your coffee together. In formal situations, pre-rinse everything, then leave it all until the guests leave, or even the next morning.

                                            1. We clean and put away as we cook. After dinner but before dessert, I usually stand at the dishwasher, scrape food and load the dishwasher. DH makes coffee and sets out the dessert. The dessert and final clean up is completed by the time our guests get to the top of the hill. I want it all - a clean kitchen and to enjoy my guests.

                                              1. I will just put the perishable food away and go hang, but invariably someone else does the dishes and cleans up for me while I'm not watching. Just lucky I guess.

                                                3 Replies
                                                1. re: coll

                                                  That's what I would LIKE to do: put away the perishables and leave the rest until everyone goes home. I get all wound up when I have a party and wouldn't be able to sleep right away anyhow.

                                                  But someone (several someones) always INSIST on helping clean. Then they put stuff in the wrong place, carefully wrap up stuff I was going to toss, toss stuff I was going to keep, hand wash the disposable flatware (I have outdoor pool parties), haul stuff upstairs that is kept in the basement, try to scrub stains off baking sheets that have been there since 1995, and last year, one do-gooder fell down some stairs carrying dishes from outside.

                                                  I sound ungrateful, don't I? I really think they are wonderful to want to help, but I wish they wouldn't. The next time I have a big party, I'm going to have to take steps to avoid this situation.

                                                  1. re: danna

                                                    "ut someone (several someones) always INSIST on helping clean. Then they put stuff in the wrong place, carefully wrap up stuff I was going to toss, toss stuff I was going to keep, hand wash the disposable flatware (I have outdoor pool parties), haul stuff upstairs that is kept in the basement, try to scrub stains off baking sheets that have been there since 1995, and last year, one do-gooder fell down some stairs carrying dishes from outside."

                                                    This cracked me up! I've been guilty of this myself!!!

                                                    1. re: danna

                                                      hilarious. I have been guilty of this at both ends.

                                                  2. My guests often shoo me away from the sink with 'You cooked, we'll clean'

                                                    1. It's definitely okay to collect dirty dishes and glasses and put them in the kitchen and of course, you want to put perishable items away ASAP. But, your guests are there to be guests, and you are there to be hosts. I think of dinners/parties as a space in time that exists from beginning to end. Real cleanup is for after they leave, so as not to bring reality into the party space.

                                                      Sometimes, a truly considerate guest will stay to help after others have departed. I don't expect that of anyone -- and that's generally a best friend, who knows where things go so that I'm not directing them in the kitchen. Even then. I completely understand if people want to go home without helping.

                                                      1. I learned my lesson after we adopted our dog Rufus. We had a party that was the same day we brought him home, after such a busy day and night we didn't clean up before we went to bed and awoke to a house that looked like Rufus had his own party, he even got ahold of a wine bottle!! I used to wait till the next day but now I do the cleanup as I go along. I guess after entertaining people for a few years you develop strategies, it sounds like the strategy of cleaning up the night of the party is a strategy that works for them.

                                                        1. It looks like I am in the minority, but I think it's rude to do the major cleanup while guests are still there. They are there to spend time with you, and should not be left to their own devices. It's not polite to leave them alone, and it's not really comfortable for all the guests to stand around the kitchen while you clean. And I don't think they should feel like they have to help clean either, they are guests and should be encouraged to relax. The only clean-up I do is put perishable food in the fridge and dishes in the sink, which takes just a few minutes. I do the rest after the guests have left.

                                                          1. Judging by the responses, it obviously depends on the people involved. I can understand some people finding it rude to clean up while guests are around, but in our house, guests wouldn't stand around watching me clean up. They'd hang around chatting, listening to music, watching a movie, or whatever, with my partner while I slip out for half an hour and clean up. then we can all relax. Everyone seems perfectly happy with that.

                                                            1. The OP mentioned one of my pet peeves. Many years ago, my S.O. and I were invited to dinner on a few occasions by another couple who had a strange idea of hospitality--IMHO.

                                                              The "dinner music" was invariably a Janis Joplin album, turned up to a such a high volume that Janis' caterwauling was truly invasive to attempts at conversation. Attempts at subtle hints about the volume of the music were met with an apparent lack of comprehension.

                                                              But, to return to the original idea, at the end of the meal, the couple would both retire to the kitchen to hand-wash all of the dishes, pots, pans, and cooking untensils. There was never any attempt to draw us into the kitchen, and, in fact, it was made fairly apparent that we were on our own in the living room for the 45-60 minutes that their cleaning chores occupied. This was not too bad when there were other dinner guests as it gave us an opportunity for conversation "sans Janis", but on the occasions when my S.O. and I were the only guests, it was truly a feeling of isolation for us to be left sittting in their living room, devoid of any contact with our hosts, and without books, magazines or television for an extended period of time. Of course, my S.O. and I had each other for conversation, but I always felt that this couple had a very strange concept of hospitality.

                                                              4 Replies
                                                              1. re: Ted in Central NJ

                                                                Is it possible that they were subtly hinting that it was time for you to leave, when they went into the kitchen and ignored you just as you subtly hinted that they turn down the music? Just some food for thought...

                                                                1. re: Melanie

                                                                  Melanie, it sounds as if they disappeared to clean RIGHT after the meal.....so if that was a hint, I'd have to wonder why they even invited these people, wouldn't you?

                                                                  1. re: JaneRI

                                                                    well, the way Ted says that the couple 'retired' into the kitchen makes me think that they certainly might have stretched their arms a bit, yawned, said it was getting late and then proceeded to go into the kitchen after those first few hints were not taken. (However, that's mostly for arguements sake as Ted seems like the kind of person who has good manners and would notice such hints.)

                                                                    1. re: Melanie

                                                                      "retired" in this context just means to withdraw to a place of privacy....it has nothing to do w/how long into the evening.

                                                              2. We tend to do "a clean as we go" just because our kitchen is not well laid out, and we need the space to plate the next course. We do leave the "big" stuff at the end and enjoy our guests though. My DH and I also have a "rule" that one of us is at the table at all times. (Except, of course, when we are serving the plates....That goes faster with 2 . Once the port and cheese hits the table, there's no more cleaning being done. :)

                                                                1. We seem to be in the minority Rita, but I agree w/you....save the major clean-up for after the guests have left.....do a basic cleanup right after the food is finished.

                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                  1. re: JaneRI

                                                                    We have friends who invite us for big holiday meals and celebrations.Their kitchen is very large with a center island with a counter and bar stools on one side and a cooktop on the other. Last time we were there all the guests stood around in the kitchen or sat at the counter while the hosts prepared dinner (about 45 minutes). They were working very hard and not socializing. After dinner everyone moved back into the kitchen while they slaved over the dishes. My husband said he won't go back because it is very unpleasant to watch the hosts slaving all night. It doesn;t bother me as much but truly it really is unpleasant. When I have guests I always make things that can be prepared ahead or only require last minute finishing so that I am with the guests for drinks/apps and then we only move dishes into the kitchen to make room for dessert plates. Never clean up while guests are there. If it is a very large dinner, I try to hire someone to help with the prep, serving and clean up. I would much rather go out to dinner with these people than to spend the evening watching them work.

                                                                    1. re: emilief

                                                                      I think it's all about attitude. I'm a big believer in preped in advance, finished at the last second, and served. My husband is even more type A than me. He was appalled at one party when I grilled the shrimp (IT TAKES 3 MINUTES!!) after I served the apps and salads.

                                                                      But I have a friend who is the smoothest hostess. When you show up at her house, there are still lots of things cooking, lots of stuff yet to be done. The first few times I witnessed this, I was practically twitching and trying frantically to help her. But after going to a bunch of her parties, I see that's just her style. She makes certain guests feel comfortable by giving them little tasks, and somehow, magically, the meal comes together about an hour after the official arrival time. She never once looks nervous or hurried or anything but the charming, graceful hostess. It AMAZES me because I fear I'm just the opposite.

                                                                  2. Because it's a regularly held event, I would say that hosting rules are a little relaxed and are more in the half family/half friend category -- in which case, cleaning up while the guests are there is fine. In this case, as a guest, I would be right in there helping stack the dishwasher or replating food or whatever, basically bring the party into the kitchen and making cleanup part of the activities. It's a many hands make light work kinda thing.

                                                                    1. I cannot stand the sound of running water and clanking dishes/silverware, unless I'm doing dishes myself. Therefore I'm in the 'cleaning while guests there is rude' camp. Also your decription of "garbage bag changed, glasses/cans picked up from everywhere" sounds almost like "we cannot wait till you guys leave".

                                                                      1. Some of y'all are way over the top. VACUUMING is the sign that guests are now to leave.

                                                                        1. I have an open deal with the folks who I entertain for- everyone who helps clean gets shots with the host post cleaning. And these aren't baby shots, they are usually double GM or a specialty shot of mine. It's a niec incentive for folks to help clean, especially after we do 7-10 plate dinners.

                                                                          1. I get to cheat a bit...Most of my dinner parties are either buffet style for large groups or sit down dinners for a bunch of food aficionados. I also have a loft style home with visual access to the kitchen from anywhere except the bedroom and bath.
                                                                            I am a bit driven to clean, but I simply run things to the kitchen, stage them either in the sink for soaking, for a quick scrub, or (for the specialty stuff) in the deal with later area.
                                                                            I then return to the guests (with after dinner stuff like coffee) and hang out for a while, then quickly return to put things in the dishwasher after soaking etc, and transfer hard to deal with items intothe sink. That way, after people are all gone, I load the coffee cups in the dishwasher to tray, pop in the soap stuff, do my specialty stuff, and run the dishwasher after everything else is done.
                                                                            I never abandon the guests, and am part of the conversation DURING my cleanup, which is done in several brief stints.

                                                                            4 Replies
                                                                            1. re: Perkyshai

                                                                              Just spotted this old thread and I have to jump in, My mom was the compulsive queen-of-clean, and during her dinner parties dad was left at the table to entertain the guests while mom washed their dishes and scrubbed the pans as soon as she possibly could. This would also happen at family Thanksgiving meals, and one of my sisters is also infected with this disease. They both eat faster than the rest of us, then hover around the table, snatching up plates and cutlery ("are you done with that?") before the food is cold. While the rest of us are having our pie and coffee, trying to digest our meal and enjoy each other's conversation, there is much clanking and scrubbing in the kitchen, as well as dirty looks towards those of us who are "not helping".

                                                                              1. re: Cheflambo

                                                                                I admit one reason why I dread Thanksgiving (aside from I don't care for roasted turkey and in general believe Thanksgiivng dinner is one of the world's great overrated meals), is while I am at the table all I can think about it what's waiting in the kitchen for me to face post-dinner.

                                                                                1. re: Cheflambo

                                                                                  My SIL is the over achiever when it came to dishes at Thanksgiving. Did the same thing, hovering and snatching. She would wait a bit, but if there were only 2-3 people still eating she went into hyperdrive! Then while we all had dessert she was in there washing everything. I finally asked her why she didn't join us for pie, and she told me she was watching her weight and didn't want to be tempted! After that I enjoyed my pie a little bit better.

                                                                                  1. re: Cheflambo

                                                                                    This is exactly what happens with my family. I prefer slow eating, leisurely enjoying the company and food. I like to digest for a few minutes after. I have offered on many occasions to do all of the clean-up by myself if they will just let it sit for 20 minutes. For me it has a negative effect on the entire gathering. You feel that you must gulp down your meal on their time table, otherwise the pans clanging and people reaching over you to clear gets very agitating. If you aren't helping in the midst of the total chaos that ensues they decide you are lazy.
                                                                                    If you do try to help, you spend 5 minutes trying to get an answer to "what do you want done with _________?", so you don't get a chance to actually do much that is useful anyway!

                                                                                    Much just boils down to personality types. I am more comfortable with an orderly, quiet clean up. I clean up as I go. I will put away perishables after the meal is very much over for everyone. I may put a few things in to soak. But I very much want to be able to have my guests relax and enjoy. And I want to relax and enjoy them!

                                                                                    My mother and co. seem to thrive on mass confusion and the noisier the better. They see their day as a big "to-do" list that they must conquer as fast as humanly possible without deviation. They simply can not understand why anyone would do things differently - the only explanation for them is "laziness".

                                                                                    *sigh* At least when I go there I know exactly what to expect!

                                                                                    BTW: I always offer to help anytime I am a guest. I don't expect to sit back and be entertained. The key seems to be in "how" this is all handled. Some people can clear and clean in a graceful way that does not convey resentment towards the guests, other can not. Some guests can be useful and open to direction from the host, others create more work than the host feels its worth.
                                                                                    Key is somehow acheiving a comfortable balance for all involved. As host, sometimes you are the one who must take the extra steps to try to create the balance.

                                                                                2. this thread reminds me of the parties we used to have at our home in the DC area. We had a security system... and I'd come downstairs the morning after, usually hungover, start cleaning up bottles and cans from all the drinks, open the garage door to dump them in the recycling bin....... and you guessed it.... set off the freakin alarm!

                                                                                  happened ALMOST every party, except for the one where a guest got up early, decided the red light on the key pad meant the system was off - and went out to get the paper! LOL. (and yes, DH was compulsive about turning that stupid system on!)

                                                                                  1. It’s funny – my husband doesn’t think there is anything strange about him disappearing into the kitchen to cook for 20 minutes or half an hour and leaving me to act as hostess, but he hates the 15 minutes I might take at the end of the meal or between dinner and dessert to quickly put away food and put dishes in the dishwasher. I do try to be a good hostess, but it doesn’t seem unreasonable, if you have two hosts there, to take a smallish amount of time to get cleaning started. People usually stay at our dinner parties for an hour or two after dinner, leaving at 11 or later, and waiting until the last person leaves to do anything would leave me with spoiled food and a completely (rather than just partially) trashed kitchen - especially since Jack is another one who uses every pot and can’t manage to run the dishwasher and cook at the same time. :) I can see that people could easily go overboard with the cleaning, but I do think there’s a happy medium.

                                                                                    1. They're the hosts - they can do things however they want. If people don't like it, they don't have to go there again.

                                                                                      1. I strongly feel that at least one member of the hosting couple should be with the guests at all times. Both members of the hosting couple should never retreat to their "dirty" kitchen to clean while there guests are in there house. Ever, it's rude. No matter how close or frequent you see your guests.

                                                                                        One cleans while the other entertains. Unless both are entertianing.

                                                                                        If you host solo, you face the task of clean-up duty after the guests have left.

                                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: LaurCar

                                                                                          Those who have followed my posts here know that for the past 10 years or so I have eaten Thanksgiving with someone else's relatives in another state, and I am neither consulted or included in the preparation of the food. Therefore I feel no need to participate in the cleanup. Our hostess breaks out her best plastic dishes and cutlery for this event and then washes them and puts them away as fast as possible. In her defense it IS a very small kitchen, but she also has major control issues that cause at least one meltdown on the day of the event every year. Her poor husband is pulled in several different directions at once and can't do anything right. The rest of us drink heavily and try to just stay out of the way. I don't care anymore if they think I am a bad guest (Im not!!) I once tried to clear my own plate and toss it in the trash, when I was not-so-gently corrected and instructed to take the plastic plate to the kitchen. That was the last time I tried to "help". And you know something? If she would just ONCE bring out the beautiful china and nice silverware that she owns and let us use that instead, I would gladly wash everyone's dishes (by hand) afterwards.

                                                                                          1. re: Cheflambo

                                                                                            Because you're not consulted about the food, you feel no need to help clean up? Thanksgiving dinner is such a huge undertaking that ALL guest should feel the need to contribute at least some help. I can't imagine lounging around while one or two people are left to deal with the mess.

                                                                                            Sounds to me that if you don't appreciate the hospitality, you should celebrate the holiday elsewhere.

                                                                                            1. re: pikawicca

                                                                                              Pika .... after 10 years with this group I have learned that the best way to deal with the control freaks is to stay out of their way. "Being consulted about the food" might not be the best choice of words here, but the food at this particular event is not why Im there -- its about Mr. Cheflambo getting once-a-year quality time with his brother and cousin. I never make a single remark to anyone about the dry turkey, pre-fabricated side dishes and lack of anything green. One year I suggested adding a little green salad to the menu and was told there would not be room on the table.

                                                                                              I do indeed appreciate the hospitality, as they INSIST we also stay at their house for 4 days, and we take the hosting couple to dinner at least once during the visit (their wedding anniversary usually falls on a day while we are there). But I've offered to bake a pie for dessert, or even one of my popular cheesecakes -- they want their store-bought stuff, My offers have been brushed off so many times, its just easier to join the guys on the patio after dinner than try to be a part of the kitchen team. Believe me, if they thought this was rude, they'd have let me know long before now!

                                                                                        2. Wow. I guess I don't get out much or have people over to the point that it's a chore. We have a large house, big open floor plan and people always flock to the kitchen eventually anyway. As things wind down, I'll continue chatting and start to slowly stack plates, plop them on the counter, return to the dining room, keep talking, grab a few glasses, etc.
                                                                                          I guess I don't see it as rude because all our company is considered family, and treated as such with warmth, love and generosity (don't forget to add way too much food, loud laughter, sarcasm, and political incorrectness). I'm incapable of stuffy or formal parties and just because I have walked away with a stack of dirty dishes, it doesn't mean there is anything sinister (I hate you-go home!) or hidden (I hate you and look at the mess you made-now go home!) in my actions. I'll come right back, I promise!!

                                                                                          Also, I will *always* offer to lend a hand when I'm in someone's home. I never sit there and expect to be entertained. Do normal people have such expectations? If we have people over and someone feels isolated, not entertained or that it's rude for me to step away and do a little washing up, either I haven't done my job in making them feel welcome, or they need a reality check.

                                                                                          4 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: Boccone Dolce

                                                                                            I see no reason to spend a few moments finishing the meal prep or sorting the mess a bit afterward however some of my hubby's and my parties became quite involved with boiling lobsters, shucking oysters, grilling meat etc that I felt like It was 20 yrs ago and I was working in a restaurant back in university - same thing for the clean up - now we have a very simple menu and catered dishes. I need to have fun at my parties too!

                                                                                            1. re: Boccone Dolce

                                                                                              In the last couple of years, my house has become the "go-to" for family gatherings: I have a big dining room with a big dining table, and my house is centrally located. I love cooking and putting everything together (and since it's family, it's often semi-potluck) but it bugs me when everyone says good night and leaves me with the mess. My sister has a toddler to get home and to bed, but what's everyone else's excuse? I don't expect my friends to help in the kitchen -- then it's a quick put the food away and plates in the dishwasher -- but when Mom suggests the family get together at my house, is it unreasonable for me to expect some help cleaning up?

                                                                                              1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                                IMO, no, Ruth - it's not unreasonable at all. An offer could at least be made, and should you choose to decline and say "I'll get it later", that's one issue. However, you could always ask "Hey Jane, while I get these dishes in from the table and into the dishwasher with the silverware and glasses, could I ask for your help in putting some of the food away?" Can't hurt to ask.

                                                                                                1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                                  That's why I don't have everyone over to my house anymore. I got sick and tired of having the family and whatever friends they wanted to bring, ending up feeding 12 people, who all HAD to leave as soon as the meal was off the table. Now we go to my daughters who has a larger house, small kitchen though, and I make sure to get in there and pitch in. I'm just so grateful not to have to host it at my house, I would mop the floors if asked! It really pisses me off when I see the other mother sit on her butt while her son, my daughter and I clean up. Oh well.

                                                                                              2. It kindof depends, but given the propensity for my place to get critters (stupid ants), I need to be obsessive about not leaving dishes out. Also, if I have people over and they have kids and leave relatively early, then I socialize with them the whole time. But if they are the stay-past-midnight type (which I totally don't mind!), then at around 9 p.m., I will go off and quick do the dishes, clean, etc. while I talk to them (my place is 380 sq. feet, so even if they are in the "living room", they are right there), which makes it less like a chore.

                                                                                                Sometimes people think that's a hint to make them leave, but I just tell them that oh no, I just want to get the dishes out of the way so I can relax, which is the truth. Sometimes they end up staying past midnight, and then I don't like doing dishes at 1 a.m.

                                                                                                So I just do the dishes, b/c I'm more likely to invite people if I know that I don't have to dread doing dishes at 1 a.m. Perhaps I'd feel differently if I had a dish washer.

                                                                                                But I also clean as I go, and space is limited, so I usually don't take that long to wash them, and I've thought about leaving them till people leave, but I just feel like I can relax till later if I get the dishwashing out of the way.

                                                                                                I think part of this is that I used to live with a roommate who had dinner parties that lasted till 1 or 2 a.m. I usually invite 3 or 4 people max, but this was dishes (4 or 5 per person) for 10-12 people. Of course, I would join, so as her roommate, I'd feel like I should help her (since she did all of the cooking!), and there is nothing I dislike more than doing dishes at 2 or 3 a.m. In fact, around 10 or 11 p.m., I used to start getting antsy, b/c if I were the host, this is when I'd start getting tired to the point of wanting to kick people out. So for the next 3 hours, I often spent time getting anxiety over the 50-60 dishes I might have to wash. (I mean I didn't have to, but I always felt like I should help.) So I think because of this, I now feel like I need to do dishes right away.

                                                                                                1. To me that's a big No No at more formal dinners. At informal affairs it's up to the host.

                                                                                                  1. My wife and I have very different cooking styles. I clean up as I go along, often reusing newly cleaned pots and utensils, so there's a minimum of clean up except plates and glassware. My wife uses everything in the kitchen and makes piles of dirty stuff.

                                                                                                    I've been trying to "re-educate" her by not helping with the dishes after the guests leave, but to no avail. However, when I've got stuff left to wash after serving, I'll usually excuse myself while my wife continues to socialize, take a few minutes to get things in order, then rejoin the party.

                                                                                                    1. I put things away as I cook..but even then, i try to cook things for dinner parties that don't keep me planted in the kitchen away from guests all evening. As for me, i fall into the "leave it til tomorrow" category...if i'm lucky, i'm having too much fun to notice dirty dishes and i firmly believe that spending quality time with my guests FAR outweighs even gargantuan piles of dishes and such in the kitchen. I'll even go as far to say I find it a little annoying when anyone (guests) has ever headed into the kitchen to clean things up themselves or help. It's a common thing where i come from. I don't mind family dinners and such, getting the dishwasher ready, quick clean up sort of things.

                                                                                                      But that's just me....anal cleaners make me jittery...and i could could 24/7 for a week but the thought of cleaning for an hour wears me out, lol.

                                                                                                      This reminds me alot of one of the scenes in "the break up"

                                                                                                      1. It is rude to get up from the table and begin cleaning up in front of guests. We stack the dishes in the sink, and join our guests for coffee or an after dinner drink. After a proper amount of time, I excuse myself and go rinse and load the dishwasher. That is their cue to leave, BTW, and they do.

                                                                                                        1. I don't think it's rude. That way they're less eager to kick you out, because they won't be itching to get their house clean. This way, once they're finished, they can relax with you and you can stay as long as you'd like.

                                                                                                          1. My mother always made us clean up the kitchen while she socialized, she didn't like to leave guests unattended, mostly because she felt it was rude.

                                                                                                            As for what you described, maybe the family have a schedule and they need to wake up early so they don't want to stay up late cleaning up. Also as others said they left other guests together to socialize so that's good.
                                                                                                            If you were their only guests and they did that, I'd say it's rude.

                                                                                                            Maybe offer to help and do some socializing in the kitchen, or if they have kitchen seating then you could sip some coffee and "talk" while they work, unless they don't like that.

                                                                                                            1. Like other posters, if I'm having people over I try to clean and tidy up as much as possible before they arrive and before I serve up. If the conversation is going on at the table, I would never stand up and start clearing up as it is disruptive and gives off the signal that I am not enjoying myself. Plus, my mom used to do that straight after dinner and I couldn't stand it.

                                                                                                              I would generally wait until everyone's gone to wash up but if we're having coffee at the table, I would just take the plates and other bits left from dinner through to the kitchen and leave them there. If we had friends or family staying over, they might help out or I would wait until we've finished eating/socializing to clear up even if it means leaving the mess until the next day. Life's too short to choose cleaning over spending time with others (unless you clearly dislike them and need an excuse to get away, that is).

                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                              1. re: Paula76

                                                                                                                Interesting how different we all are on this topic; I personally have lower back pain and am only too happy to get up and start moving after a long meal, I'll clean the whole kitchen by myself if they'll let me just so I don't have to sit any longer.....

                                                                                                              2. I was raised that it's bad manners to clean up while your guests are still present. I have found that my group of friends usually gets up from the table, and a couple of the women start cleaning up automatically, getting the big stuff done. I had a big (for me!) event over Labor Day weekend, and while the ladies were loading the dishwasher and packing the food up, the men took down the folding tables, vaccuumed and put the room back together, so they could play some cards. And everyone stayed another 3 hours after that. I don't know what's right, honestly, I think it's probably whatever your group finds acceptable.