Etiquette Hell

Hostesses With The Mostest => Entertaining and Hospitality => Topic started by: Clara Bow on December 09, 2006, 05:40:42 PM

Title: I Do Not Want Help in the Kitchen!!
Post by: Clara Bow on December 09, 2006, 05:40:42 PM
I'm having my stepmother in law and father in law in for Christmas Eve and am planning on making them a big dinner for the holidays. The problem is this: I do not like anyone in the kitchen with me and my stepmother in law in her typical hamfisted fashion cannot leave off trying to muscle in. She will not take a hint, and I don't like her in there. She doesn't do things the way I lke them done and it is a source of great consternation to me to have to rerinse the dishes and the like because she half-did them.
So how do I politely tell her that I'm a kitchen facist and I appreciate but do not need her help?? :P
Title: Re: I Do Not Want Help in the Kitchen!!
Post by: Hawkwatcher on December 09, 2006, 05:53:34 PM
It does not sound like your stepmother-in-law is really helpful if she does not completely wash the dishes.  I do not blame you for not wanting any more of her help.

Could you try to have most of the meal completed by the time they arrive and most of the dishes washed?  You could also use paper plates (you could find nice Christmas-themed plates) and disposable foil pans.  If  most everything is done before she gets to your house and if there are very few dishes to wash, she may resist the urge to "help."

You could also try to find relatively simple things for her to do, like set the table or serve the dessert.
Title: Re: I Do Not Want Help in the Kitchen!!
Post by: sammycat on December 09, 2006, 07:37:22 PM
Would it be possible to have some DVD's or other entertainment that she particularly likes on hand that she could watch?  Or perhaps send her on an errand for some last minute thing that it is not really vital to have (in case she says no or can't find it) to keep her out of the house for a while?  Failing that, could your DH of FIL have a word to her about staying out of the kitchen?

Good luck!
Title: Re: I Do Not Want Help in the Kitchen!!
Post by: Clara Bow on December 09, 2006, 07:41:24 PM
I think I'll probably make use of my son and send her in to play with him, and I'll definitely have as much of the meal as possible done before she arrives...thanks for the input. I'm just very picky about my kitchen and I only tolerate a very few people in there. As she and I have a less than cozy relationship (though she has improved some since my son was born) I just don't feel totally comfortable having her in my room of the house.....
Title: Re: I Do Not Want Help in the Kitchen!!
Post by: FoxPaws on December 09, 2006, 07:47:33 PM
Don't hint! Tell her flat out you'd just rather other people stayed out of your kitchen while you're cooking.

The other alternative is to find one time-consuming chore and put her on it - chopping up all the fruit for the fruit salad by hand with a paring knife, polishing the silver, folding the napkins into swans - to keep her occupied and out of trouble.
Title: Re: I Do Not Want Help in the Kitchen!!
Post by: Fluffy_Brit_Bunny on December 10, 2006, 03:05:22 AM
Could you ask other family members to take her on a long walk to keep her out of the way while you clear up? Perhaps if someone decides to take your son for a walk, she might go along and leave you in peace.
Title: Re: I Do Not Want Help in the Kitchen!!
Post by: shadowfox79 on December 10, 2006, 03:58:53 PM
I agree with what people have said so far, because I have seen at least one instance of what you don't do.

When we were invited for Christmas dinner with DF's family, his brother went into the kitchen to help. His brother is the most cackhanded individual you could ever meet. All we heard was a loud crash (a salad bowl hitting the floor) followed by my lovely FMIL's voice screaming "Get the HELL OUT OF MY KITCHEN!!!"

Keep her busy with your son or the table decorations, because I would hate to think of anyone having to deal with someone as useless as my brother-in-law bouncing around their kitchen.
Title: Re: I Do Not Want Help in the Kitchen!!
Post by: graceh9 on December 10, 2006, 04:13:42 PM
first time:  'Oh I really like to take care of things in the kitchen myself and I would hate to waste your time with DS on chores -- he'd love it if 'granny'(whatever she is called) would spend some time with him and read him his new Uncle Grouchy book'

Second time:  if she really persists you do a sort of self deprecating thing as in 'I know you are being a good guest by trying to help out, but I am just nuts about the kitchen -- I really can't stand to have people in here trying to help when I am getting a meal out -- it is just the way I am (or it is 'just my thing'); please go enjoy yourself with DH and DS and FIL while I get this together'
Title: Re: I Do Not Want Help in the Kitchen!!
Post by: Clara Bow on December 11, 2006, 10:09:43 AM
I love that story about the BIL in the kitchen...I've been so tempted to holler that at people. Bless my hubby, he cannot get his head around the way I set up the kitchen. I finally told him (after going on cabinet safari to find my salad tongs) that I don't rearrange his garage, he is to stay out of my kitchen. Period. He can wash the dishes, and fix himself something to eat, but he's not allowed to put anything where he thinks it ought to be.
Title: Re: I Do Not Want Help in the Kitchen!!
Post by: shadowfox79 on December 11, 2006, 10:21:42 AM
Quote
I love that story about the BIL in the kitchen...I've been so tempted to holler that at people.

He is one of the most useless people I have ever met. When he was fixing up his new kitchen he bought a diamond-tipped circular saw - FFIL was round there to cut the tiles at a speed Superman would have been proud of. We just knew that if he was let loose with that thing he'd have had his arm off.
Title: Re: I Do Not Want Help in the Kitchen!!
Post by: Miss Misha on December 11, 2006, 01:17:39 PM
I am this way too, only I *live* with my MIL.  Since I remarried, I've learned to compromise - I let her chop stuff mostly and I'm very specific when I give her a task.  Yep, it would be faster for me to do it myself by the time I explain, but it makes her feel "useful".   
Title: Re: I Do Not Want Help in the Kitchen!!
Post by: Sharnita on December 11, 2006, 01:22:33 PM
Isn't there something she can do? Dry the dishes? put stuff in the fridge? She might see it as a way of bonding, socializing.
Title: Re: I Do Not Want Help in the Kitchen!!
Post by: ZipTheWonder on December 11, 2006, 08:19:02 PM
I think Grace has the right idea.  Make yourself out to be a neurotic about your territory, then assign your husband and son to amuse her elsewhere.
Title: Re: I Do Not Want Help in the Kitchen!!
Post by: Lunadiana75 on December 11, 2006, 08:37:22 PM
I'm a kitchen fascist as well, in fact my anal retentiveness is legendary.  I loathe when people insist on "helping" when you repeatedly ask them not to and you have to go behind him and do double duty fixing what they messed up.  It's passive aggressive in my opinion to force help on someone. 

I flat out tell people that everything in my kitchen needs to be exactly just so and I prefer not to have anyone in there messing it up. 
Title: Re: I Do Not Want Help in the Kitchen!!
Post by: gjcva1 on December 11, 2006, 09:12:24 PM
Bless my hubby, he cannot get his head around the way I set up the kitchen. I finally told him (after going on cabinet safari to find my salad tongs) that I don't rearrange his garage, he is to stay out of my kitchen.

oh i had that conversation with DH years ago!  it worked (either that, or me calling him at work to ask where he'd stashed this or that gadget while i was trying to fix a meal).  when he washes the dishes now, he leaves them stacked up for me to put away. 
Title: Re: I Do Not Want Help in the Kitchen!!
Post by: Lynda_34 on December 17, 2006, 08:04:12 AM
I have three boys living with me, one is my son, the other two are friends of his whose parents didn't want them living at home anymore.
I've found things in the weirdest places but I really don't want to discourage them from "cleaning."  They will also get the munchies late at night and I'll wake up to the smell of breakfast cooking at 2 am.  Fortunately, they do clean up after themselves when this happens.
Title: Re: I Do Not Want Help in the Kitchen!!
Post by: purchgdss on January 28, 2007, 02:36:14 PM
Forgive me, I am new to the boards and have learned so much here (I am faaaaaaaaar from ettiquette savvy.

Good LORD!  Where is the good feeling of opening your home to a guest??  If you are that particular about your kitchen (it being the "heart" of a home and a natural gathering place), why have guests at all?

How crass to worry more about things being "just so" than about your guests feeling useful and appreciative of your efforts?  If you are that particular, you should enjoy their company and leave straightening the kitchen until after the guests depart.  I would hate when invited as a guest that someone made me feel unwanted in any way...... and would never return.

Title: Re: I Do Not Want Help in the Kitchen!!
Post by: RoseRose on January 28, 2007, 03:17:57 PM
Forgive me, I am new to the boards and have learned so much here (I am faaaaaaaaar from ettiquette savvy.

Good LORD!  Where is the good feeling of opening your home to a guest??  If you are that particular about your kitchen (it being the "heart" of a home and a natural gathering place), why have guests at all?

How crass to worry more about things being "just so" than about your guests feeling useful and appreciative of your efforts?  If you are that particular, you should enjoy their company and leave straightening the kitchen until after the guests depart.  I would hate when invited as a guest that someone made me feel unwanted in any way...... and would never return.



My father is the same way Auntie Venom is.  My brother and I are the only ones allowed in the kitchen when he's cooking or anything- and occasionally, if he's working with something extra complicated, it cuts down to only me.  It's not because he doesn't want to be social, it's for a few reasons:

1.  The kitchen in his home is very small.  Our family has learned to dance around each other, and if you add someone else into that, there will be people crashing into each other.  That's why sometimes it's just me and my father.  We're GOOD at doing multiple things in the tiny kitchen and reading each other's short words.  Anyone else gets in there, things get dropped or spilled.

2.  He is very particular about the kitchen.  He's reloaded the dishwasher after I've done it, because it isn't right.  He prefers doing it himself, so it gets done, then we can socialize in the living room with our guests.

It's not that we don't appreciate the offers, it's that, well, it's easier and more efficient to get it done our way.  Things go in certain places.  We do let guests who offer to help, help clear the table... and hand stuff to me or my brother as they enter the kitchen, or put it down and leave.  We appreciate them, but, they are guests in our home.

By the way, this all goes double for my grandmother, unless she's making something for my very picky grandfather, and even then, it's usually when my dad isn't in the kitchen.  They just can't work together on food- it's not that he doesn't appreciate the offer, it's that if she DOES help, they're liable to get into an argument.  I'm the same way, except that I'm newly an adult, so I can't argue, instead I get frustrated.

The kitchen is not necessarily the "heart" of the home.  Sometimes it is, but that's not true in every family (or every home!).  Our guests enjoy the comfy chairs of our living room, and our hospitality in our dining room (the kitchen doesn't even have a table, by the way).  We appreciate and enjoy guests, but that doesn't mean we have to let them into our kitchen.
Title: Re: I Do Not Want Help in the Kitchen!!
Post by: Clara Bow on January 28, 2007, 03:22:09 PM
I'm an OCD patient, so my wanting things just so is not me being intentionally rude...I do better some days than others, but the kitchen is a big sticking point for me.
Also, I don't like putting guests to work. Some people I'm comfortable with are totally welcome to help out because they know how my sickness works and how to work around it without driving me nuts. My stepmother in law thinks that I'm "dramatic" and has to do things her way, which is largely "half-a$$ed" and creates more work for me than it eleviates.
You know...I think I should have pointed out the OCD earlier in the thread. It may have been germane...
Title: Re: I Do Not Want Help in the Kitchen!!
Post by: Suze on January 28, 2007, 08:04:40 PM
Our kitchen is a "two person" kitchen - any more than that and you will be in the way of ''somebody''  so extra people tend to hang out in the doorways to the kitchen.

No big deal - it is just part of our place.

my friends and I usually have to "body slam" <tounge in cheak> Mom back out of the kitchen when we are cooking.
Title: Re: I Do Not Want Help in the Kitchen!!
Post by: Lisbeth on January 28, 2007, 08:20:48 PM
Do as much cooking as possible ahead of the event.

When it comes to cleanup, insist that your stepmother-in-law is a guest and you wouldn't dream of having her doing menial work in your kitchen.  If she insists, you might allow her to help clean off the table, but then you could say, "I've got things covered from here.  They're doing [fill in the blank] out there-I think they need you."
Title: Re: I Do Not Want Help in the Kitchen!!
Post by: caranfin on January 28, 2007, 08:56:19 PM
Good LORD!  Where is the good feeling of opening your home to a guest??  If you are that particular about your kitchen (it being the "heart" of a home and a natural gathering place), why have guests at all?
Being a hostess does not mean being a doormat. The OP said her MIL doesn't just try to help - she tries to take over and have things done *her* way. It's not rude or crass to try to prevent that.
Title: Re: I Do Not Want Help in the Kitchen!!
Post by: Arianoor on April 18, 2007, 03:30:04 PM
I used to be kitchen control freak.  (Thankfully I've calmed WAY down.)  I used to tell people to stay out of the kitchen for their own safety.  Stand at the door, sit at the breakfast bar, fine!  I'll make dinner, serve you drinks, and carry my end of the conversation, just don't get in my way. 

I had one friend who couldn't seem to respect that.  So one evening, after repeatedly tripping over her, I took her to the edge of the kitchen and pointed at the floor, "See the tile?"  She nods.  "See the carpet?"  She nods again.  "Stay off the tile!"  I handed her a fresh Long Island and asked her about her new BF.  She got the picture after that!
Title: Re: I Do Not Want Help in the Kitchen!!
Post by: magicdomino on April 18, 2007, 03:51:25 PM
A few years ago when I had my kitchen remodeled, the designer asked me if I liked people in the kitchen with me.  I told him that I was thinking about putting iron security gates in the doorways.   :)

It helps to assign one person to stir gravy. However, I find visitors far too distracting and invariably forget side dishes or burn something.  The heart of my house is right next door in the living room.
Title: Re: I Do Not Want Help in the Kitchen!!
Post by: CutebutPsycho on April 18, 2007, 05:00:09 PM
Tell her "Yes you sure can help, by STAYING OUT OF MY WAY!"

 ;D
Title: Re: I Do Not Want Help in the Kitchen!!
Post by: BittyB on April 18, 2007, 06:58:41 PM
I love to cook, and I am psychotic about my kitchen space.  I think just about every one of my friends has heard, at least once, my yelling at DF to get the *bleep* out of my kitchen so I can finish the meal and serve it!  (We are extremely informal, this is not something I would say in "polite" company, for example during family gatherings the message is given in a much more delicate manner.)  I don't actually mind him in the kitchen while I'm cooking if I can give him a job - his job is to stir things and mash things.  Those are his ONLY jobs, but he is very well suited to them (he is a man who would never let your gravy burn on the bottom!).  However, when all the food is prepped or mostly prepped I add the finishing touches and serve up plates (there is usually an element of presentation involved) and that's also just about when he starts standing right behind me and consequently 100% in the way! 

I also let people hang out in the kitchen - that's actually the way I prefer it - but when we bought our house that was a specific requirement - there had to be enough space so that people could talk to me while I cook.  They wind up outside the kitchen itself, but they are still in hanging out range and that's perfect.