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When do you start to clear the table (insprired by cleaning up during party)

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LyanneB1:
I was wondering when people start to clear the table & wash up/load dishwasher at a dinner party or family meal?

My parents in law don't have a dishwasher & FIL washes up after Sunday dinner.  Ahh, lovely, you cry.  Well, yes it is, but.  He starts this as soon as he has finished eating his main course (he doesn't have dessert).  So most other people are still eating, & then the children are given dessert.  FIL is in the kitchen & wants to be on his own, which means that the rest of us are not supposed to go in the kitchen.

Well, that's what works for the in-laws, so that's fine.  But I do not want it happening in my house.  We're currently living in a tiny house & due to not having any dining chairs at the moment, eat around the house (DH in the living room, DS1 in the dining room, DS2 & me in the kitchen).  DS1 washes up after dinner. 

At the end of March, we're moving into a brand new house, where we will have a kitchen-diner.  I do not want DH ordering DS1 to start the washing up as soon as the first person has finished.  I wash up as I'm preparing dinner & if possible, the pots & pans as I'm dishing up, so there really isn't a huge amount to do.  I want everyone to be finished eating so we can clear away properly.

Am I being unreasonable?

Now, if we have people round, there will be a different situation, becasue we don't have a lot of plates or cutlery so someone will have to wash up so we can have dessert...

kathrynne:
I'm a slow eater, and the only thing worse than someone clearing plates around me while I eat is if someone lights up a cigarette at the table. Or sprays cleaners, which make the food taste like chemicals. I'm not an unreasonably slow eater, unless you're among those who inhale rather than chew your food.

I just want to tell people to sit down and digest, please, so I don't feel I should rush through my meal.

It would be nice if people could wait to clear the table until everyone is finished, or at least until it looks like the last person to finish is nearly done. I realize some people just can't sit still that long.

There's nothing wrong with having a few minutes between dinner and dessert, though. People might even find they eat less dessert that way, because they've let dinner settle and send the "full" message to all the parts of the body that need it.

VorFemme:
As an idea, do what the restaurants do.  Have a dishpan (warm soapy water optional) and take up dishes that people are through with as the clutter builds up on the table.  Stick the dishes in the soapy water (they are hidden by the suds and the FIL may be told that the dishes need to soak briefly to "loosen" the food for easier scrubbing).  This presumes that you don't need to wash the bread plates to serve dessert on later..........

If you are seriously short of "real" dishes - serve the meal on them and serve dessert on disposables so that you can minimize the time away from the dinner party.  If FIL cannot stand the idea of dirty dishes in the sink while he is in the dining area watching the rest of the group eat - then let him go do the dishes.  I'm curious - do you think that he is OCD???

caranfin:
I think it's rude to clear the table until everyone is done eating. It's okay to take your own dishes into the kitchen, but serving pieces, pitchers, etc shouldn't be touched. I also think that when there are guests, it's rude to leave the table until everyone is done eating. If your dirty plate bothers you, go ahead and take it into the kitchen, but then sit back down.

Lisbeth:
I think no plate, glass, cup, or flatware should leave the table until it's clear that the person eating is through.

So, with an opening course like soup or salad, I'd leave it alone until the person it belongs to has finished.  If they're not finished when I'm ready to serve the entree, I'd ask them if they're through, and if they are, I'll clear the dishes for that course at that time.  Otherwise, I'll let them keep those dishes and go ahead and serve the entree and sides that go with it.

I won't clear the table from the entree course until it appears that everyone is through eating it.  If plates seem to be mostly cleared or have been untouched for a prolonged period, I'll clear those, and the food dishes and glasses, at that time.

Then I'll serve dessert (sometimes I might allow for a break at that point) with its own dishes and flatware.

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