Q: I think it’s inappropriate for a dinner-party host to start washing the dirty dishes while the guests are still around. Isn’t this code for “party’s over- go home”?
A: It depends. At a formal party, the host shouldn’t clean up until her guests have left. A casual gathering with close friends is different. Without huffing and puffing about the cleanup, offer your friends a chair and a glass of wine or a cup of coffee, and say, “You do the talking while I clear up.” Few friends can resist a captive listener, and you’ll have a clean post-party kitchen.