6 Tips For Doing Dishes For A Crowd By Hand

Although many swear that life does not exist without a dishwasher, others don't have the option of one or don't find them a necessity. Doing daily dishes isn't usually a big deal, but during the holidays when you're cooking for a crowd, they can seem as scary as the big bad wolf!

1. Don't Delay: If at all possible, do dishes following the meal. No one actually wants to do them then, but if you wait, the chore will seem larger. Grab a friend and get going, you should be able to wash service for 25 by hand in less than a half hour, which is just enough time that the rest of your company has refilled their drinks, found a seat and a game to play and you can go to bed without dread for the morning.

2. Use A Bucket: We swear by the large bucket method. Pick one up at your local hardware store for a few small dollars and have it half filled with soapy hot water. Slide dishes in one by one (plates first, then bowls and do glass and silverware in another bucket or something more shallow) and they'll be ready to wash when you have time. If you don't get to them until the next day for whatever reason, last night's cranberry sauce won't have turned to epoxy on your favorite dishware.

3. Scraping Is Essential: If there's one direction for post dinner guests, it's to please scrape your plates! If you compost, great... if not, preventing things from getting crusty means they clean right up without any elbow grease or time spent on a specific dish. Make sure you have an empty trash can or bowl set out to have things scraped into so no one asks "where do you want it?"

4. Ask For Help: At large gatherings, people always need something to do and no matter how much they loathe doing their own dishes they're usually willing to lend a hand in return for a night away from home. The chore goes infinitely faster if someone is drying while you wash and someone else is even helping put things away (it's ok—they've all seen the inside of a cabinet before, no matter how disorganized you think yours are).

5. Be Ready For The Task: Although it sounds silly, being ready to do dishes is a big part of getting them done. When you have friends and family helping you, it's easy to just tell them to sit down and relax because in the hustle and bustle you forgot to dig out clean towels and such. Be armed with soap, towels to dry and a sponge that doesn't look like it's from the last century.

6. Use A Soap Bowl: To maximize the amount of dishes you can do with as little of soap as possible (while still getting them super clean), squirt a tablespoon of soap in a shallow bowl and add a cup of water. Dip your sponge into the bowl when you need more soap, you'll use 75% less dish soap than normal and your dishes will be easier to rinse off!

Do you have a top for doing dishes for a crowd? Let us know in the comments below!

(Image: Flickr member brandongreer licensed for use by Creative Commons)