Just Keepin’ It Real

I have a strict policy.  When you come to my house for dinner…

You will not be allowed to do the dishes.  At all.

General help with clearing plates from the table, getting ready for the next course is okay.

If you try to rinse, scrub or fill up the dishwasher, I will shoo you away and order you back to the fun. I will also not be found in my kitchen doing the dishes during a get-to-together either.

I invited you over to see you, laugh and talk…the dishes CAN WAIT until later.  I also think it makes people feel like the evening is over when the dishes are being done.  As a result, I let the plates sit.  I don’t care how crusty they become. 

I also have no problem helping someone with the dishes at their home if they want to get them done.  It’s their house and I play by their rules.

This is just my rule and I’m sticking to it.

Remnants of a Friday night soiree.  Sorry for the weird lighting but it was after 2:00 AM when I decided to snap these photos.  One load made it to the dishwasher and the rest survived until morning.  No plates, bowls or cups were harmed while awaiting their turn in the hot water.

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  1. deeba 1

    You are the hostess with the mostest Cathy…that sounds just right to me! The dishes can wait… :0)

  2. Tami 2

    I would totally do dishes if invited to your house for a dinner party-by the remnants, looks like everyone was well fed and well watered!

  3. Rose 3

    I just love you for what you are.

  4. I too prefer to let the dishes pile up around and in the sink! I want to visit and enjoy the company we have over. If the hostess ( or host ) starts cleaning and putting away, to me, this is the signal the evening of fellowship is over.And really, I have observed this to be true. Often I watch the hostess clean up dishes and hand the visitors, or company their clean dishes ( should company bring a contribution to dinner ) and then the company puts the dishes in the car, along with themselves and – bye bye.Often, this signals to my husband and I that we too should leave…and I find this to be rude..rude..rude! But I don’t tell them, I just remember they don’t care to spend much time actually visiting the people they invited over….( and it isn’t just us they have over)Good post Cathy, and it looks like dinner and the beverages served were tasty.

  5. I’ve not entertained on a large scale yet, and have only had a date over for dinner so far…

    I love it when he dries the dishes after I’ve washed them and helps put them away !
    It feels romantic to me that we are sharing this together after I’ve cooked a good meal.

    But for a big party ? I agree with you completely :)

    Loving Annie

  6. I am totally with you, Cathy! When people ask, I say “Absolutely (and they start heading towards the sink) NOT! But, thanks.” If they keep insisting, I say “Look, if it makes you feel better, I won’t be doing dishes at your house either.” Then they back off … LOL

    There’s only one exception and it goes both ways. When we have our big Valentine’s Day party and we have overnight guests, the crew insists upon washing just about everything and I agree. It’s a time for us to wind down and talk more about the party before we all finally collapse. Then we can have a lovely breakfast together in the morning at a clean table, counter, etc. And, we do the same when we stay over at friends after a party.

    That looks like the remains of a great celebration. (Except for the large amount of wine consumed, that looks the remnants of one of our support group meetings!)


  7. You rock. Oh I just want you to me my friend/neighbor! 😉

  8. Julia 8

    YES YES YES! You are exactly right!

  9. Same policy here. “Sit. Sit. Have another glass of wine.” I can load the dishwasher in 2 minutes and jump back into the conversation in progress post-wash like a game of double dutch. Anything that doesn’t fit in the first load can wait.

    Is it just me or does it take at least three runs of the dishwasher to clean up after a dinner party?

  10. Donna 10

    Love that philosophy, your guests must adore you and they must feel so lucky to have you!

  11. Marlene 11

    WOW…that was a lot of wine! I am so glad you all had such a nice time.

  12. I couldn’t agree more. I have never ever started the dishes when there are still guests in my home.

    Looks like you had a great time!

  13. Sheila 13

    I am so happy to know that I am not the only one who will let some of the dishes go until the next morning! It looks light everyone had a great time last Friday.

  14. Kate 14

    I feel better now knowing this.

  15. Leslie 15

    Looks like everyone CLEANED their plates..I am sure everything was delish

  16. Cathy, I have a few different reactions. Initially I fully agreed with you. I hate it when some subset of the party disappears to clean up, it’s like they want to start their own little party. Vaguely rude.

    On the other hand, there have been more than a few times when ducking out and doing some dishes has been a great way to take a break and escape a particularly boring conversation.

    On the third hand, after having cooked for a crowd, it’s really nice not to have to deal with the wreckage. So I’ll admit to not protesting too hard when people have at the sink.

    In the end I think it comes down to the crowd. We have a regular dinner group and many times the clean-up has been more entertaining than the sit down. My best suggestion is to let anyone help until dessert. Dishes after dessert is social death, but until then it lets guests think they’re working for the treats that await.

    On the fourth and final hand, can I come over for dinner sometime? I promise to sit on my butt and not lift a finger that isn’t directly required for consuming food or wine.

  17. Paula 17

    I love that rule! We live by that as well at our house.
    Looks like a fun party! Judging by the Pinot Noir bottles a really fun party;-P

  18. ntsc 18

    If it is just us dishes are often simply rinsed and left until AM.

    Same with a small dinner party, say up to 8 people total.

    Thanksgiving is a 4-5 day affair involving 13 people and if I don’t keep filling the dishwasher we run out of dishes. I will for this accept help from our nieces/nephews and spouses. Children do not do dishes in this house. My Grandfather’s rule and made sense to me at the time.

    If it more than that, either suff gets stacked in the garage, or if outdoors it is probably paper plates.

  19. Same rules apply in our house…as it should be! Which wine was the yummiest?

  20. Same rules apply in our home. Housework is endless and life isn’t! Which wine was the yummiest?

  21. I have the same rule!
    NO cleaning my dishes, but thank you.
    Another rule I have is:
    please don’t bring any food to my house when you are the invited guest.
    A bottle of wine is fine!

  22. Melynda 22

    I too prefer doing the dishes after everyone is gone. I get to think and get ready for the rest of the day. Looks like everyone had a nice time.

  23. I’m with you on this one too.

  24. Sarah 24

    I also HATE it when people try to do dishes when I have them over for a meal. It drives me crazy. Its my kitchen and my mess and who really likes to do the dishes anyway? I also agree that the dishes can wait! :)

  25. Sophia 25

    Please invite me for dinner. I won’t dare offer to do the dishes. I promise.

  26. After that much wine, I wouldn’t offer to do the dishes. I won’t do them at home at that point either–when I try to clean up after a dinner party that I’ve enjoyed the grape I ALWAYS break a wine glass. So I have stopped and let it wait. (Or let HP do it)

  27. imom 28

    I’m glad I’m not the only one that lets dishes sit over night!

  28. I like your policy!

    Looks like you had a great party!

  29. dawn 30

    You are the hostess with the mostess!

  30. I am the exact opposite and expect the help:D

  31. McKt 32

    That is a fabulous policy! Too bad there is no way to make the grandma’s abide by it around here.

  32. Jeff 33

    I have the same policy although my friends have gotten really sneaky about distracting me while they load the dishwasher. Latest trick is luring me to the garage with promises of beautiful cigars and scotches old enough to buy the cigars.

  33. dawn 34

    You are the best, I always have guests help and now I’m going to stop it. I’ve seen the light.

    Love all the wine labels…especially the Racy Red, how cute is that.

  34. HoneyB 35

    I’m like you. Nobody know my kitchen like I do and I like to take care of it by myself!

  35. Shaye 36

    Add me to the list! I have the same rule about dish washing. I do tend to put away the leftovers right away, but I keep the conversation going while I’m at it. The dishes always wait until the AM…or later. 😉

  36. I am with you on this one. The dishes can wait. But I do like helping others with their dishes.

  37. Mary 38

    I have no problem letting my dishes sit, but I try to take cues when we are at the home of others. I don’t mind helping with dishes.

  38. Pam 39

    Oh, I am terrible. I usually do the dishes really quick only because everyone hangs out in the kitchen/family room and I chat with them while I clean up. I really should let them wait but it drives me nuts.

  39. Barbie with a T 40

    I feel just about the same way you do. I would prefer to do it myself later. If I entertained a lot, I would probably hire someone to take care of all that, but I do not entertain all that much, therefore I really do not expect my “guests” to clean up after dinner. You seem to be the perfect hostess…I would love to have dinner at your home! I did entertain yesterday, but it was a crawfish boil outdoors, and we covered the table with a paper, and when all was finished, we just rolled up the paper and threw it all away in the garbage. That is the beauty of living on the southern coast!

  40. elra 41

    So, are you going to invite me then? Would love to come and not doing the dishes.
    Good rule Cathy, I do the same. They can help to bring the dirty dishes to the kitchen, but not to load them in my dishwasher.

  41. I can see from the soldier line of wine bottles, that Pinot Noir was the toast of the evening. I agree; who has time for dishes when good company and Bacchus call!

  42. I agree 100%. When dinner is finally ready I want to sit down with my guests and enjoy the meal and their company. A few doing dishes breaks up the party. I like to linger at the table with the last of the wine, coffee and dessert. That’s my favorite part.

  43. Love this rule. Sadly at my house hubby has dish duty. He can’t stand to not start on them before the guests leave, so he does. And they leave. Of course if it’s just weeknight dinner then he’s happy to leave them in the sink til the a.m. Hmmmm?

  44. Julie 45

    I totally agree. I’ve found that dishes can wait a really really long time. What else could they possibly have to do?

  45. your right. I’m amazed that even putting some plates into the dishwasher just because their isn’t any more room on the counter tops will trigger the “fun is over,” mood switch. However we rescued the fun with the espresso machine.
    i am so excited for you to be actualizing your dreams and getting into your new country living in Oregon.
    Rock on woman!

  46. leftfoot 47

    I absolutely don’t let guests do the dished in my house. Husband? Sure. But when I’ve invited people over, I want them to eat, drink and be merry, not eat, drink and become my maid. Plus it takes away from happy, fun time. Because I typically wash while I’m going, I only have a small portion of the dishes left over. After clearing the table I put everything that will fit into my sink with piping hot water and soap to soak, making the cleanup that much easier. (And since I have virtually no counter space in my “non-for cooks kitchen”, it helps in that area.)

  47. Bob 48

    Heh, wish I was at your place on friday!

  48. Biz 49

    I did load one dishwasher full, but left the rest, quickly forgot, and when I was shutting down the house for bed at 11:30, realized the kitchen was still 1/2 a mess!

    I couldn’t have Hannah wake up to that mess, she would have a heart attack! So from 11:30 a.m. til midnight, I cleaned up the rest.

    I was happy I did that too – I got to sleep in a bit this morning!

    Your ham recipe was delicious! I got rave reviews, but sadly, no pictures!! 😀

  49. That’s refreshing to hear! I come from an Italian family and since I am the oldest granddaughter I always have dirty dishes to do. Sometimes I need to get a head-start and miss the entire evening cleaning up… lol I would love it for once I would just be able to sit back and relax! OR at least have a group of people helping me!

  50. Liz C. 51

    I too, am one for letting them sit. Besides, it gives me something to do when everyone is gone (or gone to bed). I do remember the days when guests would stay late, but that was long ago. Now, it seems everyone is gone by 11:00 PM. What a bunch of old farts!

  51. Marjie 52

    I rinse and load pots while transferring food to the serving dishes, and eat to the happy sound of pots being cleaned. As for dishes, well, that’s what sinks full of hot soapy water are for! And when my girls volunteer to help, I’ll take whatever I can get.

  52. Lo! 53

    I totally don’t want my guests worrying over dishes. Plus, that’s what my dishwasher is for :)

    I always figure that a Big Monster Pile of dishes is the sign of a successful event. Yours looks Amazing!

  53. krysta 54

    same here… it drives my in-laws nuts but if i invited you i wanted you to have fun not to do work! it really puts a damper on the fun.

    p.s. my mom made your rum and coke glaze for ham… fabulous!

  54. krysta 55

    let’s try this again… i don’t think my comment caught.

    i have the same rules too and it drives my in laws nuts but they work really hard why should they slave over my dishes?

    ps my mom made your rum and coke glaze… fabulous.

  55. I agree completely. I’d much rather chat people up than get all worked up about the dishes. A good soak and even the crustiest stuff comes off!

  56. I never let people do the dishes either. I feel the same way–once the dishes are done, so is the fun!

    I hope your Easter was as fun as you are! :)

  57. Donalyn 58

    I think this may be a regional thing, but no one around our area/among our friends would dream of not helping clean up. It is part of the socializing to all pitch in and get the dishes done. It doesn’t diminish the fun or socializing at all – adds to it if anything. Maybe it’s a “country” thing? People out here help each other do everything, so why would the dishes be any different? It’s the way it is though 😉

  58. Queen of Planet HotFlash 59

    I knew we were kindred spirits I have the same rule…fun first

  59. That’s my policy exactly. Seems to give my mother-in-law hives, but there it is. Dishes can wait.

  60. Maureen 61

    I feel the same way. It drove me nuts last night when we were all enjoying the patio and a post dessert glass of wine, and my friend goes in my kitchen and starts loading the dishwasher. Which led to my husband going in and helping her…

    UGH – I finally got them to chill out and come enjoy the rest of the evening.

  61. Melissa 62

    That’s very, very cool Cathy. Thanks for sharing that.

  62. I totally agree with your motto… I am the same way:) You have a lot of dirty dishes though :)


  63. You know, I try this also. Trying to enjoy my time with friends. But they always insist on cleaning up. Drives me nuts.

  64. Debbie 65

    I agree with you…the dishes can always wait!

  65. LilSis 66

    Looks like it was an awesome dinner party! I’m the same way about dishes. I’m glad to know that I’m not the only one who is sometimes up in the wee hours of the morning loading the dishwasher alone.

  66. LoriE 67

    I never, ever, ever clean up while I have guests. How rude. My husband will clear the table after dinner with guests just to make room for dessert and he will start the coffee. After that we will just visit with our friends and I will clean up the next day after I have gone for coffee with my crazy coffee group. Oh look the dishes are still there waiting for me when I get back and the earth is still spinning in the right direction. I entertain a lot and this works for me.

  67. LoriE 68

    Oh by the way. Instead of trying to get an invite to your house for dinner I will switch things up and invite you to mine if you are ever in the Vancouver, B.C. area. I made your carrots for a side dish on Sunday but I added a bunch of patty pan squashes and then some asparagus. Looked outstanding and tasted great. Thanks for the inspiration.

  68. Louise 69

    Beautiful policy! It is all about enjoying company …

  69. I am with you 110%!!! I end up spending half my night in the kitchen, I would really rather not spend the other half cleaning up. After all, that’s what the stark and gory light of day is for!!!

    By the by, your counter full of dead soldiers looked EXACTLY like mine after our Friday night guests left! I wish I had been part of that Pinot party….

  70. Claudia 71

    I’m free Saturday …

  71. Cheryl 72

    Hospitality before housework…ALWAYS! :)

  72. Hey I have the same rules — more fun that way! Lots and lots for me to catch up on around here! You are so prolific. I love coming to visit with you.

    Your new garden-on-the-golf-course hosts many of the same beauties I have in my garden. The difference between your CA home and mine is lots of elevation and MUCH COOLER (summer and winter). Enjoy those wonderful flowers and take notes for your future garden. : D

  73. I’d love dinner at your house any day! I have the same rule…that’s what comes with hosting! Looks like a fun party :)

  74. I agree with you, in theory. But was raised in a household where doing the dishes (or cleaning things up) was tied into an image of being a good host. I need to break the cycle!

  75. As someone who adores to entertain and entertains often enough – I hear you on those dishes…a system certainly helps in terms of limited space some of us may have in the kitchen…

    but being ‘present’ at your own party is essential to having a good time to having a fantastic time…if one is worrying about the dishes – you are simply not ‘there’ for your friends and family who have come over to enjoy themselves with you!

    but when it comes to cleaning up – have a bowl of soap water, to place your used kitchenware and used utensils. For extra large parties, I have been known to take three days to clean up…heck life is busy…and having a few dirty dishes is not going to kill me any!

    good post and I totally agree!

  76. Kayola 77

    Ohhhh…I’m sooo with you on this….I DO NOT want them feeling like they have to help…NEVER!

  77. Laura 78

    The dishes and bottles tell all.
    Looks like a great time!

  78. Lisa 79

    Hear, hear!! I am with ya’ sista!

  79. I know how you feel. I sometimes have people over for dinner who WILL NOT STOP ASKING ME if they can help. I have a kitchen that’s 8’x8′. There just isn’t enough room for two people in there. Besides, that’s what I have a husband!

  80. I’m exactly the same. It kills me when I’m invited somewhere and they start doing the dishes right after dinner.

  81. Whooo doing dishes is no fun…for anyone! We pulled out the paper plates for our dinner. We just couldn’t handle anymore clean up!

  82. maris 83

    I’m with you on that one. Dishes will still be there after the party!

  83. This was always my policy, but I became quite strict about after being at someone’s house where the hostess actually called out people by name if they weren’t in the kitchen cleaning. This is all while the men sat on their asses watching television.

    I would never let a guest help clean. How rude to invite someone over as a guest in your home and then expect them to clean. I always say, “If I need help, then Steve will do it. He lives here, you’re a guest.”

    It’s also very hard for me to keep my mouth shut if I’m the guest and I see all the women feeling like they have to clean while the men sit around talking.

    Okay – rant over. :)

  84. I wouldn’t expect pictures at 2am to be quite so tame…

  85. I couldn’t agree with you more! I am a self admitted control freak, especially in the kitchen. I have my way of doing things. And when I throw a dinner party, I the last thing I want to think about after eating and chatting is doing dishes.

    On another note, my Husband offered to do the dishes after a dinner party for my Birthday the other week. Much to his surprise I let him (blame it on the wine.) The next morning I came to realize they were still partially covered in food. Bless him, I think he did it on purpose 😉

  86. Vanessa 87

    You’ve got the right idea. I’m sure plenty of people offer to help, but who really wants to do the dishes at someone elses house anyway? 😉

  87. Sara 88

    I am the same way, this actually stems from the way my dad would be when we had guests, he would just be cleaning away right in front of them, almost to the point where it was uncomfortable! I don’t want my guests to feel like they have to walk on egg shells, I want them to be able to relax and have a good time!

  88. Elyse 89

    That’s my rule, too! And I inherited that rule from my mom. I think it’s a great, welcoming, wonderful rule! The dishes will be there tomorrow, but the party won’t!