Hostesses With The Mostest > Entertaining and Hospitality

Should guests at least offer to help with dishes and clean-up?

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Depends on the host, the venue and the type of party

Event held by family members, particularly holiday dinners - would automatically assume I'm going to help out unless told otherwise.

Small fairly casual event with just a few people, or where you know the hosts really well - make an offer, and accept the response.

Small formal event or event held by someone I don't know very well - say a fancy sit down dinner with a few people - probably wouldn't offer, as I wouldn't be too thrilled about slopping dishwater or spilling food down my good clothes.

Large formal or dressy event - cocktail party, fancy wedding shower - wouldn't offer

Large very casual event like a backyard barbeque - If I'm there near the end, offer to help with the cleanup


Mind you, if I was at a more formal dinner with just a few people, I'd be a bit peeved if the hosts took off to the kitchen to do dishes and sweep the floor while their guests were sitting by themselves.

It's polite to offer, assuming the event isn't catered.  I would say that for formal parties, the hostess should just as politely decline.  Clean up can wait until the guests are gone.

I have to say, though, that I have a small kitchen and really don't like the distraction of someone else in there.  Unless I'm making gravy.  It does help to have someone stand at the stove and stir the gravy while I'm putting the rest of the meal together.

I definitely think it depends on how formal the situation is, even if you are close with the hosts.  If it is very formal, I dont expect people to help clean up - but if it is pretty casual, I think a small amount of 'cleaning up' is appropriate, or at least offering.  and by small amount, I mean taking your own paper plate to the trash if the hostess is busy putting food away, not like wiping down the table or doing dishes. 

I dont want to thread hijack, but I am really glad this was posted, as I have been wondering about this very issue.  I know it differs for different people, and the situation, and I dont think it is rude if a guest doesnt offer to help, but I had a situation and I am wondering if I am overreacting or if it makes sense to feel the way that I do.  I'll post a spinoff...

IMHO, unless it is a family hosted event, I don't think it is polite to have the guests help with the real nitty-gritty duties, such as washing and drying the dishes. That is just not very hospitable to make them do the dirty work. If the guests offer to help, then have them do the smaller duties such as carrying the serving dishes back to the kitchen, lighting/snuffing the candles, etc.

Regardless of the situation, if a guest offers to help, the host/ess should not get *offended* by the offer. Especially if the offer is made by a first time guest. If the host doesn't want help, then they should say so. However at that point, if a guest insists, then the host could get offended. But that's just IMHO.  :D


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