*This article appears in Holiday edition of the Home Improver digital magazine
Many of us will be staying over with friends and family for some time in the holidays. Assuming you like these people, you’ll want to be invited again, so here are some hints for being the perfect guest.
If you’re going to stay with your significant other’s family for the first time, find out about the house rules and stick to them.
Don’t arrive empty handed. Bring flowers, a pot plant, a bottle of wine or chocolate. Be polite. Make your bed. Pick your towel and wet bathing costume off the floor. Offer to wash dishes, pack or unpack the dishwasher, lay or clear the table.
Pitch in with groceries. If you have food allergies, bring the food you can eat. If you like something special for breakfast, bring it with you. Offer to help with cooking or make a salad to go with the meal. Offer to cook a meal, perhaps by saying: “I’d like to do dinner for us all tomorrow night.” Then buy the ingredients.
Adjust your schedule to that of your hosts. If they all get up early and you’re still in bed, they might feel they have to tiptoe around to avoid waking you.
At night, don’t stay up playing music when your hosts have gone to bed. But it’s fine to excuse yourself for an early night if your hosts are night owls.
If it feels appropriate, give your hosts a break. A bright-eyed guest who is always there can be a strain. Go for a walk, have a nap or sit in the garden with a book. Make it clear you don’t expect to be entertained all the time.
Be particularly watchful if you’re visiting with your children. Make sure they are polite, take care of your host’s belongings and don’t rampage around the house.
If your hosts have a housekeeper who might have done a couple of chores for you, such as some washing or ironing, do leave a tip. You being there has made more work for them. People invite you to stay because they enjoy your company and expect having you there will be fun. It’s your job to fit in, to make your hosts feel comfortable and to be cheerful.