Q: When is the proper time to remove your guests dinner plates? Is it after everyone is finished? I have a dear friend that insists on helping out at dinner parties, but she starts removing plates before all are finished. She also insists on putting away food from buffets within 15-20 minutes of the meal. I think it better to leave the food out and let people browse for a bit. And I don’t remove dinner plates for at least five minutes after the final course. This way no one is rushed and you can enjoy dinner conversation. I do appreciate her help but it sometimes stops the conversations and makes the slow eater feel uncomfortable. Am I wrong in politely asking my friend to hold off? What is correct?
A: You are not wrong at all. Explain that some people feel bad or rushed when their places are cleared before they are finished, or they are left with a plate when no one else has one. Tell her you love her help, but need her to please watch for a cue from you, not to start clearing without your OK, because you don’t want anyone to be hurried. Let her know if she is still willing to help a little later it would be wonderful.