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Wedding Woes

"Hey John, take the trash out and Bill, can you start clearing the table?"

Dear Prudence,

Whenever I host large dinner parties, only the women offer to help with dishes. I appreciate this, but when I take them up on their offer, there’s a gender imbalance in the kitchen I’m uncomfortable with. I sometimes end up refusing because I hate the optics of it: The men sit around drinking, while the women wash up. I’d like the men to help more, but I don’t want to ask any friends and guests to clean up if they haven’t offered. I’m hosting a Friendsgiving, and some people will bring their own dishes or booze, so I don’t even know if it’s appropriate to ask for help if they’ve contributed something to dinner. Is there a way around this cleanup issue, or am I forever doomed to do all the dishes by myself the next morning?

—Thanksgiving Cleanup Anxiety

Re: "Hey John, take the trash out and Bill, can you start clearing the table?"

  • I hate this. And also when all the men and all the women congregate separately. That’s not a thing with most of my friends and I don’t go back to parties with groups of people who do it. Absolutely, ask the men to help. It’s not clear if the letter writer is a woman, but if it is a woman and there is a male spouse/co-host involved, having him take this over could flip it nicely. 
    mrsconn23ahoyweddingInLoveInQueenscharlotte989875
  • Speak with your spouse beforehand and let him know that cleanup duties are to be shared equally.  Then let your guests relax while you two clean up.

    mrsmitten
  • I hate this. And also when all the men and all the women congregate separately. That’s not a thing with most of my friends and I don’t go back to parties with groups of people who do it. Absolutely, ask the men to help. It’s not clear if the letter writer is a woman, but if it is a woman and there is a male spouse/co-host involved, having him take this over could flip it nicely. 
    This! 

    We just went to dinner with ~7-8 couples Saturday night and the couple organized actually sat women on one side and men on the other. It was so weird. And basically all night I’m not hanging out with my husband because he’s 5 seats down on the “men’s side”. 
  • I hate this. And also when all the men and all the women congregate separately. That’s not a thing with most of my friends and I don’t go back to parties with groups of people who do it. Absolutely, ask the men to help. It’s not clear if the letter writer is a woman, but if it is a woman and there is a male spouse/co-host involved, having him take this over could flip it nicely. 
    DH does the cleanup when we have people over. That's because 1) I probably did the cooking, because I'm generally home earlier to prepare and I'm better at it, and 2) he cares more about the dishes being cleaned up ASAP.

    It also has the great effect of eliminating this issue.
    Yeah - in our home DH gets the job of playing dishwasher Tetris.  

    I may do some pots and pans but for an average meal it's his job.  
  • baconsmom said:

    FTR: I refuse all help at my dinner parties. I stack the dishes and leave them for the next day, so *everyone* gets to sit and socialize. Problem solved again. 😉
    That's pretty much how we deal with it.  We get up bleary-eyed and likely hungover the next day, make some coffee, and get to it. 
    charlotte989875baconsmommrsmitten
  • I'll be the lone poster who knows what you all are talking about.  Because I saw it in my childhood.  But I haven't experienced it as an adult.  Maybe part of it is that my H and I have a small circle of friends and don't socialize much.  And, when we do, it usually isn't a group larger than another 1-2 couples.

    The "usual" is one couple hosts at their home.  Often other people bring food also, but not always.  When people are done eating, they take their own dishes to the sink.  Sometimes the host couple rinses and puts dishes in the dishwasher and it's not always the female half.  Including in my own house!Sometimes the host couple leaves the dishes in the sink but, either way, we're not talking about a lot of dishes.

    To brag on my H, he always volunteers to help with clean-up.  In fact, he usually volunteers first and that reminds me to be polite and also offer help, lol.

    Wedding Countdown Ticker
    charlotte989875ahoywedding
  • MobKazMobKaz Chicago suburbs member
    Ninth Anniversary 5000 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    As a young girl, the men all hung at the family "bar", and the girls took care of the work.  As an only girl with 4 brothers, I used to resent it, until I got older and actually began to enjoy the conversations among the women.  There are some very fond memories from those years.

    As the hostess, I used to quietly excuse myself and start the clean up process.  As soon as my absence was noticed, the "women folk" would all join me in the kitchen.  I actually preferred to clean up quietly by myself, so I had to end that practice because I never wanted to abbreviate the after dinner R & R for my family and friends.

    We have fallen into a relatively unspoken but not quite equitable routine now.  Guys in our family typically handle beverage and garbage service.  If the event is family only, I will ask members to help themselves to containers to take whatever leftovers they desire.  This also selfishly helps me facilitate some clean up in a "win-win" sort of way.  I also like to do a little partial clean up because we need to take a break between dinner and dessert.  Dessert is almost another meal in itself!  The rest is left for when the guests leave and the house is quiet.
  • If I'm hosting, I don't like to see any of my guests cleaning up because that's part of hosting. I'd rather just gather everything up myself, put away the leftovers, and save the cleaning for the morning so I can go enjoy my gathering as well.
    short+sassybaconsmom
  • Our house rule is someone cooks, the other person cleans. I am always the cook, so my husband is always the dish washer. And the second he gets up to do the dishes, other male guests follow.
    short+sassy
  • I love my H so much when I read stuff like this. H is always the first to start helping with the cleanup and when we host people for drinks and appy time, he is dealing with all that while I'm answering the door etc.
    short+sassy
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