Q: Is it a no-no to serve your guests on paper plates? Should guests help with clean up after dinner? Is it rude to start washing the dishes (if you don't use paper plates!) and cleaning up before guests leave? And one last question, how long should guests wait after arriving before dinner is served?

— Linda

Hi Linda,

Paper plates have a place—at a picnic! I like to serve meals on dishes and drinks in glasses because I want my guests to feel special. How would you feel if you were looking forward to going over to someone's home and they served you a meal on a paper plate? It's all a matter of how you wish to take care of someone you've invited into your home to enjoy a meal you have prepared. Plus, I think wine always taste better in a glass; it doesn't taste the same in a paper cup!

Sit with your company after dinner and wait until they leave before you wash the dishes.
I know it's a pain to clean up, but if a guest "asks" to help clean up, I always say, "No, thank you" first. However, if they ask again, I quickly hand them a towel and say, "Sure!" (Why not?) Some of the most fun and best laughs come from being together in the kitchen cleaning up!

I only wait 30 to 45 minutes—tops—before I serve dinner. I don't believe in long cocktail hours. People are hungry, and I feel it's being inconsiderate to keep people waiting too long.

Speaking of inconsiderate, if I have asked guests to be at the house by 7 p.m., I won't wait for people who arrive past the 45-minute mark. Why should I keep the people who showed up on time waiting for someone who is late? Now that's a no-no!

Have fun at your next dinner party!



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