Dishes, Dishes, Dishes

Whenever there is a gathering of humans and food shows up, you can be sure the mood will noticeably brighten and become joyous, light and celebratory. Even if it’s as simple as tea with sandwiches.

Food is very powerful. Not only does it nourish and warm our bodies, it also nourishes our emotions.

There is a deep need within us for connection and closeness. We hunger for community just as we hunger for food.

IMG_6994 (500x333)

At my sister, Milana’s house.

That’s the reason parties are so much fun. No matter how fancy or laid back we make it, we thrive in a close circle of family and friends.

There is a deep satisfaction inside us after we’ve said the last good bye to our guests at the door and think back to all the work we did in planning and preparing the dinner, tea, lunch, etc. Yep, it was worth it.

IMG_0172 (500x333) (2)Then, our gaze stops at the pile of dishes, the messy table, the multiple pots and pans on the counters and stove and we groan. Loudly.

There’s one thing I can almost guarantee… most hosts dread cleaning up after a party.

After all the planning, prepping, cooking and serving, our energy is totally zapped and there is absolutely no desire to roll up those sleeve and tackle THE STACK.

I’ve worked out a system that works for me, and I almost don’t dread those dishes anymore.

1. Start out the party with an empty sink and dishwasher.

I wash everything I possibly can before the party starts. All the dishes, cutting boards, mixing bowls, knives, etc. that I used to cook and prep get washed and put away.

This is sort of easy, since I want my guest to arrive to a clean and neat home anyway. I also try to empty the dishwasher so I can start stacking dishes in there without having to put the clean ones away first. I have a really small kitchen, so I need all the counter space anyway.IMG_1205 (500x333)

2. Soak the dishes throughout dinner.

When I gather all the plates from the main meal and to make room for dessert, or when we head over to relax in the living room, I stack the plates in the sink and cover then with water. It barely takes any extra time at all, and all those dirty dishes will be soaking while we go on with the party.

It’s important to me to spend time with my guests, so I don’t wash the dishes at this point, unless we have so much people that we ran out of silverware and need to get some washed to eat the cake.

The only thing worse that dirty dishes, is DRIED UPย dirty dishes.IMG_1421 (500x333)

3. As soon as the last guest leaves, I turn into the energizer bunny.

Do NOT sit down, start to unwind and reminisce over the evening. Nope. That doesn’t work for me. If I sit down, it’s so much harder to get motivated to start cleaning.

I have a race with myself. As soon as that door clicks shut, it’s as though the shotgun went off. If fact, if you forgot your purse and came back for it, I’ll already be halfway done clearing the table.

IMG_0313 (500x333)I try to see how fast I can have the kitchen clean. It’s become a game that I play every time. It gives me such a thrill when I step back, everything is clean, the dishwasher is running, all the pots and pans and serving dishes washed, and the counters clear.

I stand there and look around, with a silly grin on my face, cackling with glee and triumph. Ah. I amuse myself quite easily, as you can see. IMG_1422 (500x333)I glance at the clock and brag to my husband how fast I did it this time. He’s a dear and humors me and lends a hand, of course. His job is to put the leftovers away, and dry and put away the dishes I wash before they topple. I do like to stack them high. ย IMG_0316 (500x333)Since all those dishes were soaking away, they are a cinch to wash and I fly right through them. Guess how long it usually takes? In most cases (I’m talking BIG parties, 20, 30 people), not more than half an hour. Don’t believe me? Try it yourself next time.IMG_1437 (500x333)The most important reason why I clean up right away though, is for my sanity.

Just the thought of waking up the next morning with my kitchen a disaster makes me very grumpy. I’ve gone to bed plenty of times in the past with the kitchen a mess and it wasn’ t pretty. I wake up in a bad mood, and get up sulking and mad.

Now instead, I reward myself with a slow wake up, make myself a nice cup of tea and revel in the memories of the evening before, of ย all the great people that were there and how clean and cheerful my house looks, instead of all those dishes blocking out all those warm memories.IMG_1806 (500x333)





  • Mariya Gavralova

    I used to always leave it for morning but you are so right, it’s so much easier to do it right away. I’m like you right now:) the only thing is that I didn’t soak the dishes.. Thank you for that great tip! My sink looks really similar to yours and I stack it that high also:) this a great post. I like it when you share things like this, makes it seem like I know you:) I love this site-now I’m off to make your buffalo wings;)

    • Mariya G

      I just wanted to let you know we had guests over and used many of your tips and after everyone left even when my husband kept telling me to leave clean up for morning, I did it and it felt so good! And now in morning I feel awesome when I walked into my kitchen!:) thank u. And the wings are really good. Both recipes:)

  • Oksana

    I’m so glad you posted this. I am the same way, if I sit down after the guests leave, I become lazy, it’s hard to get motivated. I also wash the dishes along the way as I cook that I can’t put in the dishwasher. It just makes me feel better. I read somewhere that to make the kitchen look even cleaner, is just to wipe the sink (after its empty) with a sponge so there are no water splatters left. Done that before, and it’s amazing how it looks.
    I grew up in a big family, and we didn’t always wash dishes at night. In the morning, it was even more of a chore to get last night’s food off the dishes, gross. After I was married, it was my husband who, if I was too tired, washed all the dishes (he’d rather do that than put away the leftovers). He always said, it’s better to wake up to a clean kitchen. Now I can’t sleep if there are even few dishes in the sink. Breakfast seems to taste better in a clean kitchen. It’s almost like making the bed the first thing in the morning. You come home and it is inviting. (I know some people don’t, why bother making the bed if they
    re going to sleep in it again right?)

    • olgak7

      Isn’t it interesting how all of us do things differently and also when we find out someone does things the same way we do? I always think it’s so fascinating to hear people’s different methods/routines:).

  • Marina

    Thank you, Olga, for the tips, soaking the dishes is a great one, as well as making a game out of cleaning up. My husband and I entertain regularly, mostly large groups of people. In fact, we are planning another party this Sunday and I am going to put your tips to use, see if they work for me:)

    • olgak7

      Good Luck! Hope you guys have a great time. Parties are fun. I actually have a bunch of people at my house this week. It’s so much fun:). I’m loving it.

  • Oksana

    Also, do you think you can post some kitchen organizing tips? My counters always seem too crowded. My lids for pots and pans are always giving me trouble, I can’t find a good spot for them in a cupboard within easy reach. Top of the fridge is like a junk drawer (except its in plain sight) with all the vases, candles… I can go on. Any decluttering tips are appreciated. Thanks

    • olgak7

      It’s in the works, Oksana:).
      I have a pretty small kitchen, so I’ve had to organize it in order to make it useful and not feel cluttered.
      I have an awesome storage for lids. I’ll take a picture of it and post it soon.

  • Tanya

    I may be in the minority, but I love cleaning after guests ๐Ÿ™‚ It is a treat I look forward to, and as soon as the last guest is out the door, im off!, exactly like you said ๐Ÿ™‚
    I despise waking up to a messy kitchen.

  • Tanya

    Oh and I am the queen of decluttering ๐Ÿ™‚ it is my hobby, literally. I have each area in the kitchen designated for a purpose. And basically if I wont be using something within 6 months, it goes.

    • Oksana

      Thanks, that’s a great idea to get rid of extra stuff that will be just sitting there. Some items I kept for years, thinking that i might use them, but that in reality I’ve no need for them. I’ll be going through my stuff now and start donating what is taking up my space.

      • olgak7

        That’s an awesome guideline to have, Tanya. I hate clutter with a passion. I also get rid of stuff – sell it, donate it. I can’t abide uni-taskers. I’d rather have one thing that does many jobs than something that performs only one thing. There are very few exceptions to this:).

  • Nikki Sparks

    Great post! Really motivates to want more parties. I love having them but will admit I’m not very good at it yet and the cleaning part is definitely a daunting thought. I appreciate all of your wisdom and tips you share. God bless!

  • Oksana

    And I am the same way, I have to wash my dishes and clean the kitchen before I go to bed. Otherwise my mood is ruined if the first thing in the morning I have to wash dirty dishes with stuck on food. And I am hosting a big family gathering at my house this Sunday and I will try your tip on cleaning up as fast as I can. I think I can see how rewarding it will feel, I get competitive like that with myself sometimes. Thanks for a fun post!

  • Alena

    I think every girl will wake up not in a mood if the dishes are still in the sink to be washed!!
    I always clean everything before i go to bed especially after guests and thank God for a wonderful husband that helps me with cleaning:) we like to do it together and that way we go to bed together:) and i love your pictures, so nice to see you and your lovely family, i trully LOVE your web site:) thank you for everything:)

    • olgak7

      Thank you Alena! I love sharing personal stories and pictures of my family.
      I definitely agree with you that having a understanding and helpful husband is a gift straight from heaven. My Sergi is a treasure:).

  • Estera

    Are you sure you’re not my sister….???? we are so much
    My husband thinks I need to chill sometimes when I get back in the kitchen as soon as the last guest went out the door. But I honestly can not stand a messy kitchen and sink full of dishes, and I can’t sleep knowing I have dirty dishes in the sink. ๐Ÿ™‚
    I love waking up to a clean kitchen and enjoy every second of my morning coffee as I look at my kitchen ๐Ÿ™‚ lol

    I enjoy your site and recipes very much. Thank you for sharring !!!

      • olgak7

        I don’t have the recipe for Salmon Melts posted on the blog. I was trying to point out the simplicity of these sandwiches. I don’t have a recipe of everything I cook on the blog:). I’ll post the recipe when I have a chance. They really are delicious. I usually make them from leftover salmon.

    • olgak7

      Yep, that’s totally me! My husband is the same way though, he really likes everything neat and clean. Although he probably would leave the dishes for morning more times than I would:).

  • Olga G

    I really enjoyed this post! You have a very beautiful writing style. This post has really motivated me to be more hospitable. Your love for our Savior is so evident! May God Bless you and your family as you share with others, wonderful meals and wonderful thoughts!

  • Alla

    What inspires me most about this post is that we get to know you and see your little kitchen throough photos…. It encourages me to keep cooking in my little kitchen as well…. Great results don’t have to only come out of fancy kitchens…. Where do you take pics of your food? Do you have a lot of light all the time or do you transfer your finished dishes to the dining table anf take them there?

    • olgak7

      Thank you Alla.
      I completely agree. I’ve cooked in a tiny kitchen almost my entire life, so I definitely agree that you don’t need to have a spectacular gourmet kitchen to cook awesome food. Although I would love to have a beautiful kitchen in the future:).

      • olgak7

        Sorry, Alla. Forgot to answer your question about the pictures.
        I take pictures of the food in my kitchen, on the counter where the Kitchen Aid mixer is standing, I just move everything out of the way.
        My kitchen never has any natural light, so I use lights to supplement.

  • Ellen Goldenson

    I loved your post! I actually enjoy the cleanup. I know, it sounds a bit crazy, but is true. My husband does most of the prep and cooking and I do the cleanup. (Now that I’ve discovered Olga’s Flavor Factory, I may do a lot more of the cooking using your fabulous recipes!) After all of our guests leave, I change into comfy clothes, put on relaxing music, and work away at the dining room and kitchen. It serves as my special wind down time. I enjoy reflecting on the special evening that just ended and always feel blessed by the people who share our lives. By the time I’m finished , I’m ready for well deserved sleep.

    • olgak7

      Thanks for your comment, Ellen. That’s so awesome that your husband likes to do the cooking, and how nice of you to clean up! After spending hours in the kitchen cooking, it’s such a huge help when someone helps out with the cleaning.
      Some nice, relaxing moving helps too:).

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