Q: At a recent dinner party, the hostess left the room to load the dishwasher while a few of us were finishing up dessert. It made me feel I should hurry up and go. Is it ever okay to clean up before dinner guests have left?
A: If someone spills wine or some other mishap occurs, a host may want to tidy up immediately. Otherwise she should resist all cleanup urges until everyone is finished. She may then start the dishes if one or more of the following are true: Guests are close friends or family; it’s super casual; or it’s a weeknight gathering.