Author Topic: Polite way of asking others to pitch in and help at holiday dinners  (Read 3483 times)

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MissRose

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My parents hosted Thanksgiving dinner.  We had many family members over to eat with plenty for all to enjoy, and those who came to my parents' place also brought a dish to pass to go with the traditional fixings of turkey, gravy, potatoes, stuffing, dinner rolls and green bean casserole.

We had the following guests at my parents' home:

Me
My sister and her long time boyfriend
My sister's 2 kids ages 10 & 12
My Aunt (who had back surgery recently and is recovering) and my uncle

I got to my parent's home at 9am. I helped my mother with getting the potatoes ready to be boiled for mashing later.  We made some desserts.  We kept an eye on the other items like the turkey, etc.

My sister with her kids and her boyfriend arrive around 12 noon.  My aunt and uncle arrive around 12:30pm as she has to go to 2 times a day (morning and evening) therapy every day for 5 weeks due to her surgery.

After we ate, the kids went to the living room to play. My dad worked a bit on de-boning the turkey.  My uncle and aunt remained at the table and talked with my sister & her boyfriend. 

Like the dutiful older daughter I am (and supposed to be after stuffing myself full of food), I proceeded to help my dad package up all of the leftovers to be refrigerated (and some for us to take home), and put the dishes by the sink to be washed, and cleaning the counter tops off.  Then my dad and I dried the washed dishes and put them away after my mom washed & then rinsed them.

I would not force my aunt and uncle to help nor my sister's boyfriend to help. How do you politely tell others like my sister and her kids who are more than old enough to help some to pitch in with the clean up efforts without getting them to get all huffy and puffy etc about helping out? 


MassachusettsMomx4

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Re: Polite way of asking others to pitch in and help at holiday dinners
« Reply #1 on: November 25, 2011, 10:21:35 AM »
Don't worry about them getting huffy, ask them to help.  Hand each a dishtowel and say that you need the help.  These kids are old enough to pitch in and their mother can be the one to direct them. 

Ruelz

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Re: Polite way of asking others to pitch in and help at holiday dinners
« Reply #2 on: November 25, 2011, 10:31:54 AM »
I'm having a similar conundrum...while I actually don't want help in our tiny kitchen area, I like it when someone sits at the kitchen table and at least keeps me company for a bit.

But lately, all my kids (and their SOs) are off entertaining each other and having fun...leaving myself and hubby to do the cooking and the bulk of the clean-up.

So I'm a tad irked with my adult kids (who should know better)...and a little irked with the SOs who are old enough to offer to help at least.

I have to change things around a bit for Christmas...I don't want to start a culture/tradition of where hubby and I become the service...

I wasn't more assertive beforehand because this is all new for us and we're not the most relaxed folks in the world (so I didn't want to push it - I'm trying to relax more)...and if they had offered to help, that would have taken care of the issue...
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EMuir

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Re: Polite way of asking others to pitch in and help at holiday dinners
« Reply #3 on: November 25, 2011, 10:34:55 AM »
Kids have to be asked (forced?) to help out, then eventually it becomes second nature.

When we have company over we usually just leave the cleanup until everyone goes home.   

Sharnita

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Re: Polite way of asking others to pitch in and help at holiday dinners
« Reply #4 on: November 25, 2011, 10:40:46 AM »
I think that first of all you ask everybody.  If you want your sis and the kids to help then you don't excuse aunt, uncle or boyfriend unless for health reasons or if bf is brand new. (maybe aunt would be excused on that basis)

Of course, the reality of this is that there probably isn't room for everyone and the people who know the routine best will be the ones who have to do it = which means the same people do it all the time.

My best suggestion- make anyone not cleaning up put up the Christmas tree!

O'Dell

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Re: Polite way of asking others to pitch in and help at holiday dinners
« Reply #5 on: November 25, 2011, 11:59:40 AM »
You ask for help with specific tasks and requests. Asking for help with no direction, often just gets you lots of people milling around not knowing what to do. "Hey 10yo, can you help me clear the plates from the table? 12yo, if you grab the serving bowls we can get these leftovers put away." If boyfriend is on the new side, it might be better to leave sis with him and Aunt and Uncle, but if he's been around, then ask her to do a specific task too. Then hand out more tasks as needed.

Like MollyMurr said, once the kids learn to help like this, it becomes second nature.
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PrincessInPink

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Re: Polite way of asking others to pitch in and help at holiday dinners
« Reply #6 on: November 25, 2011, 02:28:27 PM »
You ask for help with specific tasks and requests. Asking for help with no direction, often just gets you lots of people milling around not knowing what to do. "Hey 10yo, can you help me clear the plates from the table? 12yo, if you grab the serving bowls we can get these leftovers put away." If boyfriend is on the new side, it might be better to leave sis with him and Aunt and Uncle, but if he's been around, then ask her to do a specific task too. Then hand out more tasks as needed.

Like MollyMurr said, once the kids learn to help like this, it becomes second nature.

That's what I was going to say. Specific requests are always good. It's possible that they would be willing to help, but just need a little direction. And it's hard to say no to a direct request like "Sis, can you please dry those dishes?" Of course, if they just say no, I don't really know what you can do, but you can at least ask. If they do what you ask and choose to get "huffy" about it, well, at least it gets done. If they want to have a bad attitude, it's their problem.

Outdoor Girl

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Re: Polite way of asking others to pitch in and help at holiday dinners
« Reply #7 on: November 25, 2011, 03:05:12 PM »
The rule in our household is that the person who cooks and/or knows where all the stuff goes doesn't do dishes.  They are responsible for putting everything away as it is finished.  The men folk are usually assigned the job of scrubbing the roast pan and other pots.

I think you need to specifically ask people to do things.  Some people are oblivious as to what needs to be done, or think they are in the way or something.  Or they don't want to do anything but will be shamed into it if asked directly.

So in your case, I think I'd just ask:  'Sis, could you wash and the kids dry?  Uncle, could you scrub the roast pan for me?  BF, could you scrub these pots?  Dad's working on the turkey, I'll put everything away and Mom and Aunt can visit.  We'll be done in no time so we can all visit some more!'
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ShadesOfGrey

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Re: Polite way of asking others to pitch in and help at holiday dinners
« Reply #8 on: November 25, 2011, 04:37:01 PM »
I would mention it to Sis this year. "hey, I noticed that mom and dad were really tired after last years clean up-I'm thinking we should do a rotation next year so it goes a bit faster and is easier on everyone."
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Grape

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Re: Polite way of asking others to pitch in and help at holiday dinners
« Reply #9 on: November 25, 2011, 06:21:15 PM »
You ask for help with specific tasks and requests. Asking for help with no direction, often just gets you lots of people milling around not knowing what to do. "Hey 10yo, can you help me clear the plates from the table? 12yo, if you grab the serving bowls we can get these leftovers put away." If boyfriend is on the new side, it might be better to leave sis with him and Aunt and Uncle, but if he's been around, then ask her to do a specific task too. Then hand out more tasks as needed.

Like MollyMurr said, once the kids learn to help like this, it becomes second nature.

This! Just politely ask each person to do a task. It goes pretty quickly and then everyone's done! I'm a big believer in just asking for help if you think people should be helping. Use a nice tone of voice and the matter-of-fact approach...half the time people either don't know how to help or don't want to get in the way.
« Last Edit: November 25, 2011, 06:40:09 PM by Grape »

JillyJ

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Re: Polite way of asking others to pitch in and help at holiday dinners
« Reply #10 on: November 25, 2011, 06:28:15 PM »
I think the problem is they are viewing themselves as "guests" rather than family sharing a meal.  You don't ask guests to help clean up, but sis sure as heck needs a kick in the pants, and she needs to teach her children about pitching in.  Perhaps the key is to make them host and then not lift a finger to help, though they probably would think nothing of asking you to clean up.  LOL

SamiHami

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Re: Polite way of asking others to pitch in and help at holiday dinners
« Reply #11 on: November 25, 2011, 07:41:33 PM »
I agree with assigning tasks. At the end of the meal, you could say something like, "Mom & Dad, why don't you go rest while Sis, the kids and I clean everything up for you. After all-you cooked, so we should clean!" Then before anyone has a chance to object start giving out the assignments, "Kids, you clear the table. Sis, if you'll package up the food I'll start washing dishes." And so on.

I can't believe anyone would possibly be rude enough to object/refuse. If they do, then they don't deserve to be invited next time!

I had the opposite problem yesterday. My brother and SIL hosted everyone at their home. SIL wouldn't let anyone bring anything to contribute to the meal-she said we are her guests and she would take care of us (and I must add that it was delicious! SIL is a wonderful cook). After the meal I tried to help with the clean up, but she shooed me out of the kitchen. She only allowed her older daughter (25) to help. Granted, she was the hostess and her kitchen is pretty small, but I felt guilty hanging out with the family in the living room while she was working so hard in the kitchen!

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rigs32

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Re: Polite way of asking others to pitch in and help at holiday dinners
« Reply #12 on: November 25, 2011, 08:57:11 PM »
It sounds like you're expecting them to just know what must get done as jump in to do it.  As others said, just make specific requests.

My step mom used to be the opposite of that - barking orders at me to clean before I even finished my meal. Very frustrating to not be able to actually enjoy the meal.

The Wild One, Forever

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Re: Polite way of asking others to pitch in and help at holiday dinners
« Reply #13 on: November 26, 2011, 09:17:51 AM »
I'm with Reulz, in that I like doing the clean-up myself, but I like someone to sit at my bar or table with a cup of coffee or glass of wine and keep me company.

If you want others to pitch in, I like the idea of assigning specific tasks.  In years to come, you might not have to ask, they will probably just jump right in. 
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Bijou

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Re: Polite way of asking others to pitch in and help at holiday dinners
« Reply #14 on: November 26, 2011, 10:20:07 AM »
"Mom, Why don't you leave this cleanup to sister, BF, the kids and me, and go sit and visit with Aunt and Uncle."  Then distribute the work among you.

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