Do you put guests to work at your parties?

lakeeffectSeptember 22, 2002

I grew up in a house where usually just my mom did all the party cleanup and it was almost always after all the guests left. My parents have a very, very small kitchen and my mom seemed embarrassed to have people see it.

Now that I'm married and have been to my in-laws house dozens of times, I am amazed at how my MIL usually gets everyone "involved" in the party cleanup and by the time guests are leaving has the whole kitchen clean. It took me quite awhile before I learned to relax and open the kitchen drawer for a dish towel...always felt like I was intruding!!

Do you get your guests involved? Or do you prefer to clean up on your own?

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The first time I have people into the house, I "do" it all myself. If after that visit we are comfortable with each other and an offer is made, I will accept a small amount of assistance. If it is "family (real or those who have been around so long they feel like they are)then they are welcome to help in many ways, from finishing setting the table (if they arrive that early) to putting garnishes on platters and of course clean up!


    Bookmark   September 22, 2002 at 8:42AM
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In our circle of friends, everybody just pitches in and help clean up, so the hostess doesn't go to bed too tired. I would actually prefer to do it myself, but what can you can when folks just start clearing? (What usually happens is they get everything into the kitchen and fairly straighten up the other areas. I do the major 'clean' after they leave.) I think these days, with everything being so informal, people just like to 'help'.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2002 at 9:47AM
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I have the opposite problem. I *want* to leave things be until the day after. But there are a couple of friends that want to clean sooo bad, that I end up having to leave the other guests, and work in the kitchen on cleanup detail. They just won't listen to me when I tell them to leave it.

So the last few times, I end up having to work out menu choices, etc so that things can be prewashed and stowed before the party begins, and I use a lot more disposable things, so that we can just toss it and keep socializing.

If I'm already in the kitchen, and guests want to help, I might let them. But if I leave my mess while I socialize, dear guests, please let me do that!!

    Bookmark   September 22, 2002 at 4:06PM
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If you live in Buffalo, it is perfectly acceptable to ask guests to help out, and indeed they are happy to contribute to the cause! In other words, it depends on the guests and the type of party. I think most people would rather lend a hand than to watch the hostess lose her head!

    Bookmark   September 23, 2002 at 10:49AM
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Like TREKaren, when we entertain large groups I select a menu that allows me to prepare ahead. Usually the only things out are those awaiting cooking, heating, or serving. Everything else is cleaned and put away.

For the dshes and serving plates, they stowed away after use in the kitchen sink or dishwasher. Dh usually keeps everything in order while I serve the dinner courses.

And like MsMagnolia's friends, mine always pitch in with whatever cleanup is needed at the end of the night. Can't stop them.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2002 at 10:10PM
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I guess when I go to my MIL's house I don't feel like a "guest." We are family. If she has spent time cooking for us, I feel that I should help with the clean up. When I have a get-together at my house, my mother ALWAYS helps clean up the kitchen, as do I at her house.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2002 at 5:48AM
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Depends on the occassion and the crowd. For dinner parties and cocktail parties I prefer to leave all the cleanup until after the guests leave. I don't like to end nights like that with all the hubub and commotion of clean up. Besides DH does all the cleanup and I go to bed LOL!

For family dinners and get togethers and at the cottage everything from preperation to clean up is "all hands on deck"!

    Bookmark   September 24, 2002 at 2:07PM
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I always offer to help. If they say no, fine. So there!

    Bookmark   September 26, 2002 at 3:11PM
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I have never asked anyone to help me clean up but if my friends offer I do accept it. And I usually offer to help if I am at their house too. Gives my girlfriends and I a chance to go into the kitchen away from the men so we can talk about stuff the men don't understand anyway!

    Bookmark   September 26, 2002 at 10:27PM
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Yes, usually I have one or two show up just a little early (it just works out that way) and they help get the last items ready and on the table. We tend to do a potluck thing and we have it at different peoples houses so we do not get burned out. I do most of the cleanup myself. Robin (DH) helps with that too.

Lee AKA Fireraven9
Las cosas claras y el chocolate espeso. (Ideas should be clear and chocolate thick.)
--Spanish proverb

    Bookmark   September 27, 2002 at 2:48PM
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If I put my guests to work, they wouldn't be guests, especially for after dinner cleanup. My rule is no kitchen clean up until guests are gone. And, I don't much like it when I am a guest at someone's home and they leave the conversation/leave the guests to go clean the kitchen.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2002 at 1:59PM
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I would never ever get my guests involved in clean up. Even when they ask, I say no thank you...go enjoy yourself.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2002 at 11:42AM
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I'd never ASK guest to help out, BUT if they are close friends or relatives or people you see often I do accept their help with bringing food to the table & clean up afterwards of the main course, but nothing more than that b/c after all they are guests & not hosts - the same way I want to go visiting & not have to do too much at someone else's home. After dessert I let everything sit & I enjoy my company. I hate it when you go to someone's house & they have to clean everything up & spend the whole time away from their guests. What's the point of having guests over if you can't spend any time with them.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2002 at 1:10AM
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I'm w/ TREKaren--*I* don't want to do any clean-up after. I'm going to wash dishes in teh morning. I put the food away, and that's that. Fortunately, I don't have to argue w/ anyone yet.

I also don't always like to have someon ehelp me clean up--I once had Tgiving dinner for 4 people, and they all leaped to their feet and started carrying things into the tiny kitchen, and suddenly you couldn't move for fear of knocking a platter or plate on the floor; theywere stacked all over the place.

I've found that the best thing to do, because everyone leaps to volunteer since they don't want you to work while they sit, (I can easily end up w/ 4 people looking at each other in my small kitchen) is to directly ask one person and directly tell the other volunteers that you'll use them later. So I stand up to take out the salad plates, and a couple of guests start to rise, I'll say to one, "Set those by the sink" and to the other, 'I'll ask you to help when it's dessert time." Then I get some control over who's in my kitchen.

There's not a lot of room, and I get furious when people stack plates w/ food or even flatware on them (can you say "shards of china"?), so I like to be in control of my kitchen.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2002 at 8:48PM
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If they cause the toilet to overflow, then I put them to work.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2002 at 10:30PM
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This is only for family holiday's, but in our family the men do the dishes. Started decades ago when one of the hostesses was pregnant, and had cooked all day. The women are helping more these days w/ clearing the table & putting food away. One man washes & loads dishwasher, the others dry and stack the dishes on a clean table for the hostess to put away later. Its a tradition everyone seems to enjoy, and everything is cleaned up in a snap. Then we cn all enjoy the rest of the evening.

    Bookmark   December 19, 2002 at 8:49AM
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Depends on the party and the number of people. I had a birthday party last summer for b/f. He invited 90 people (thank god I have a yard big enough) I had "helpers" most were his family. I did all the cooking myself but,did have family on the grill. Last night I had a small christmas party (10 to 15 people) and I woke up this morning and b/f cleaned up everything. When I am at the families- I always help with the dishes. ESPECIALLY if it is my significant others family. If his mom can cook all that I can at least help with the dishes. I have done this at all of the families house. I believe it is my job to make them like me not their job to make ME like them. Helping out goes along way. I always bring a dish when I am invited. I love to cook so its not a problem for me. Even if I am told I dont have to bring anything I will than make a veggie tray or something

    Bookmark   December 22, 2002 at 5:47PM
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No... please stay out of my kitchen!!! Only the best of friends will know how to help without being intrusive. I've tried to master the "clean as you go" technique so the kitchen doesn't look like a disaster area, and it's MUCH easier to tidy up quickly without someone leaning over my shoulder. When the party is over, please go home and let me worry about whether or not I want that sticky pan to soak overnight.

I also must admit to feeling resentful about being made to feel obligated to help clean up at other people's houses. While I am willing to help to a certain extent, I lack patience in dealing with those who do not adhere to the "clean as you go" technique. It would not take the host/hostess away from their guests THAT long if they were to wipe up the sauce spilled on the stove before it dried rock-solid. Can I finally leave a dinner party guilt-free when we get down to their breakfast dishes in the mound in the sink? (That would be the inlaws.) Do I have to wait around for an hour to do the dishes while the hostess finds the perfect-sized container to refrigerate leftovers? (I'm not kidding, this woman was not going to put anything away in a container an inch bigger than it needed to be--and it wasn't because her refrigerators--plural--were full.)

We have the best times at get-togethers where the host/hostess have the kitchen under control. With practice, it is possible to keep things neat and orderly (for instance, rinse and store the pots and pans while someone else carries in the serving dishes for dinner; put the dinner dishes in the dishwasher while someone else serves dessert) without taking too much time away from socializing with guests.

    Bookmark   December 27, 2002 at 5:29PM
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