It’s that time of year again when we descend on friends and family, and conversely they descend on us. It seems timely to check ourselves -am I a good house-guest?
I am sure you have heard the old saying – guests and fish are similar, they both go off after three days. In an attempt to ensure they we don’t go off quite so quickly, lets consider how not to be a guest from hell.
First of all what is a guest from hell? .
The lazy one; she thinks it’s a hotel she’s booked into, that you are her mother and find pleasure in picking up after her. There are males with the same traits. In fact he can be even worse as his gear usually includes smelly, or very smelly, sox and sneakers lying in the middle of the lounge floor. A male will often spend long periods of time in the toilet. When this is in the same room as the shower and you have to go to work and or the kids get to school, well . . . paint your own picture.
The fussy one: they’re similar to the lazy one in that they too think you are their mother, ecstatic at being able to provide all their needs. The fussy-one tells you she is a vegetarian just after you have spent hours producing a meat dish using fashionably long slow-food methods. He tells you he hates tomatoes when the only food left in the cupboard is a packet of dry pasta and a tin of tomato sauce.
The cheap one: spends hundreds on sky diving, bungee jumping, hot air ballooning, and expensive bottles of booze, for himself, but fails to even think of a buying you a coffee when you pick him up at 1 15am when his flight, train, or bus arrives. He tells you about his budget and how far he has travelled or an oily rag but never asks about your budget.
The boring one: is often not family but someone met in a bar when your perceptions of people were somewhat distorted. The amusing convivial fellow has turned into a right-wing bore who knows how this country should be run, loves reality TV and channel surfing, sleeping late and mostly, the sound of his monotone voice. Have you met him? Or her. They are hard to get rid of.
Now, I am absolutely positive you are not like that, nor do I expect my family who are flying in to stay with me over Xmas to be anything like this but, lets review some of the etiquette required to be a good guest. Common sense and courtesy are the key principals. This is a time when the golden rule “do as that you expect done to you” needs upgrading to platinum, “do as your hosts want you to do”. Guess what- it’s their home you are in so their rules rule.
So, to remain on your hosts xmas list, do the opposite of the above examples ( and there are many varieties of hellish guests, this was just skimming the surface, perhaps you could add more from your own experience)
Open your wallet and purse to buy the basics. Toilet paper, coffee, food. Sure its easy to buy, and nice to get, a bottle of wine or box of chocolates, however you will more than likely drink half of it…grand gestures are OK as long as the basics are covered too. Absolutely pay for your phone calls and don’t spend ages on it.
Clean up after yourself. Don’t put it down – put it away. Keep your bed made and all your gear tucked tidily into a corner of the room. Keep the bathroom clean too.
As well as the clean up behind you, an extra task each day will be appreciated by your hosts. For example, water the garden, when you do your washing offer to do the house wash too. Strip your bed, wash the sheets and tidy the room when you leave.
Cook a meal for the family: buy all the ingredients, and do the dishes afterwards.
If it all sounds too much – don’t stay with friends or family. Book into the closest hostel, hotel or bed and breakfast and visit them from there. Both of you will appreciate each other that way and the friendship will continue.