I regularly read the newspaper and am fond of the little how to's and tips that these famous ladies pass on to the general public...The ladies I refer to are 'Hints from Heloise' and 'Dear Abby'...
I have already made an article about Heloise, now its Abby's turn...you can find out more about Dear Abby at...http://www.uexpress.com/dearabby/bio.html
She had one question from a reader today that got me thinking of the very good point she raised. Here is the question and the answer...http://www.uexpress.com/dearabby/ (scroll down a bit for the precise one I am referring to)
"DEAR ABBY: My husband and I are invited to my dad and stepmom's house for almost every holiday. There are usually 25 to 35 people at these events. After dinner, the "girls" are expected to clear the tables, wash the dishes and clean the kitchen. I don't mind volunteering, but my stepmom INSISTS. No dessert is served until everything is clean.
When I invite guests to my home, I ask them to leave the dishes and "let's enjoy ourselves." I believe that when you invite people over, you should not expect them to work unless they volunteer. Am I wrong to feel this way? -- STUCK IN A CYCLE
DEAR STUCK: You are entitled to your feelings, but what you are describing are two different styles of entertaining. Your father and stepmom are traditional in their thinking, as demonstrated by the gender-driven division of labor. While I agree that your stepmom could be less heavy-handed in her approach, it is her house, and on their turf, the hosts get to make the rules. If you really resent being conscripted when you attend these gatherings, perhaps you should attend fewer of them."
During my years in 'event facility' management I saw some parties planned that didn't have an adequate plan for the 'clean-up'. Most though, did have a plan of action and the clean up wasn't so bad if there was a large enough crew that stayed behind and each person did their parts and was given a list of shared duties...sometimes the larger parties of 400+ people actually took less time to clean-up than the smaller 100+ person even...go figure...but it was because of proper planning and division of labor.
One thing about a facility is, whatever you bring in, if you don't throw away during the event, you have to take with you when you are finished...I only provided the facility (which included a full un-equiped kitchen, bar area, tables and chairs) the renter brought in every thing else.
Sure with catered events the caterers are very good about taking care of their responsibilities but there usually is still a lot left to be done by the 'renters' themselves. There has to be a plan of action..
At a 'home' centered event such as a family holiday dinner and birthday parties or the rare weddings, this is left up to the 'host/hostess' to hash out...Some people are like Abby's reader that are laid back and say..."I'll worry about the dishes later". A lot are like the 'stepmom' and immediately step up and like the military on maneuvers task all the females within site for the clean-up. (don't even get me started on the 'gender issues'...I think with my generation, there isn't one) I know, I tend to be in the readers group myself, but I know a lot of family members that are like the stepmom...my mom was one of them...(I could name a few more, but you know what I mean...)
Personally, I am the laid back type, Don't get me wrong I don't like messes, but I want my guests to be comfortable and if all they do is come in eat and then clean-up...what is there to be comfortable about coming over if they are pressured into working?...And, I am not the kind of person that will let my quests sit in the other room while my hubby and I dutifully clean up and ignore my guests while they are there...
There has to be some sort of middle ground here somewhere...So, in honor of the Fourth of July and any other gathering in the future, if you are a guest do something to help out, sure...definitely make sure you take care of the items you handled...in other words 'police yourself'...If you are the host/hostess keep in mind people come over to visit with you and don't appreciate being 'conscripted into service', so don't expect them to help...
If you are interested in asking Dear Abby questions or offering advise...contact her at...http://www.uexpress.com/dearabby/dearabby_form.html