Why I Always Finish the Dishes After a Dinner Party

published Nov 12, 2015
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As I mentioned in a post last week, I have a thing about dishes. If you come to my apartment for a dinner party, I will almost certainly decline your help with the dishes. (I share Anne’s reasoning; she explained it beautifully.) And it’s not because I’m planning to let the dishes sit until the next morning. When hosting, I always make sure the dishes are done before my head hits the pillow. And it’s all because I don’t want to be crabby the next day.

For me, waking up to a sink full of dishes, even if they’ve been scraped and stacked, is a sure way to start the day off in chaos. You can’t make coffee when the sink is full of dishes, and I’m not much use before I’ve had my coffee.

Plus, weeknight entertaining means that I have to tackle dishes before I sit down to work for the day. And I don’t know about you, but the last thing I want to do is 30 minutes of dishes before working a full day. And when I entertain on the weekends, I’m usually in recovery mode the next day — a slow start with articles I’ve saved to read or a long walk through the neighborhood. Dishes are not part of that routine.

And really, I’m just going to be a lot less cranky if I don’t have to deal with dishes first thing in the morning. I consider this a public service to anyone I might see throughout the rest of the day.

So how do I motivate myself to actually get those dishes done after saying goodbye to the last guest of the evening? I’ve made a personal pact that anytime I’ve hosted a meal, I have to leave the kitchen cleaner than when I started cooking. That means no dishes in the drying rack; the stovetop, counter, and table are thoroughly wiped down; and everything is put away. The only real exception to this rule is that I’ll leave glassware out to dry, especially if we’ve had enough people over that we’ve gotten out the plastic party cups.

I think of it like a competition. Imagining that if someone came into my home the next morning and inspected my kitchen, they’d never guess I hosted four, six, or 15 people in my apartment the night before. (Unless they looked at all the wine bottles in the recycling bin, that is.)