Tuesday, July 25, 2017

House Guests: Yea or Nay?

INGRID THOFT

“Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days.”  - Benjamin Franklin


Summer is the season of visiting out-of-town friends and family and hosting them, especially if you live in a particularly appealing location.  July and August are perfect in Seattle, but for better or worse, we don’t have much room for hosting.

Some people set the hosting bar quite high.  Martha Stewart suggests you provide guests with a manual on how to operate appliances, a baked good for the trip home, and chilled water at their bedside.  She even advocates for a attractive sitting area if space permits!

Arden goes for it!
When we lived in Massachusetts, ten years ago, we didn’t host many overnight guests.  However, we had a pool, and we’re the hosts with the most in the summer months. We routinely welcomed twelve + guests for the day with the goal of feeding and entertaining them, and of course, making sure no one drowned!

It was great fun, but exhausting.  Interestingly enough, I found the clean-up from such days to actually be meditative.  I’d put on some favorite music, and my husband would tackle the outside while I put the kitchen and laundry (lots of beach towels to be washed!) in order.  We’d finish the day worn out, but so happy that we could provide a fun respite to those we love.

Ella and her turtle.
Most of my visits are to family, and although there’s a familiarity there, I try to follow the same rules as I would with a friend: be considerate, take care of a couple meals, strip your bed on your last day, and always write a thank you note. And, as Benjamin Franklin so aptly said, don’t overstay your welcome.  I’ve also found that a box of my favorite chocolates, Harbor Sweets, makes every host happy, and for a truly unique hostess gift, I bring some murder-themed cocktail napkins!


What do you say, Reds and readers?  Do you like to host or visit?  Any pet peeves?




House guests should be regarded as perishables:
Leave them out too long and they go bad.
-Erma Bombeck

Jay Roberts you won yesterday's giveaway!  Send me your address on FB!



41 comments:

  1. Usually our house guests are family and, of course, I’m thrilled to have them come [and always wish they could stay longer than they do]. When we’re visiting, we try to be thoughtful; I always write a note afterwards . . . .

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  2. I'm a really bad host. Being a bachelor, I don't cook much myself, so when it comes to meals, I'm stumped. And, with roommates, I don't usually have room for guests. The roommate thing is about to change, so we will see if I wind up playing host more often.

    I'm probably not the best guest either, so I usually think afterwards what I should have done to help out. See bachelor thing above. I'm just basically lazy.

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  3. Introvert. Hate people. The only guests I have are the grandkids and they get to do whatever they want.

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  4. I do not like to host that is for sure. I always (semi) joke that I don't like my own family members in my house, much less other people.

    When we got stuck hosting my brother's in-laws a few years back, it was a nightmare. Then we had my niece here for 2 months in the summer when she was 9. It was so bad that the plan to drive her back was abandoned so that we could fly her back to be rid of her quicker. And that is the last time we hosted anyone.

    I don't really travel that much but a couple of times that I did go on trips where I stayed with friends, it was for 3 days on one trip and four days on another. Trips from further back in time were weekend trips too.

    I think if I travel in the future, I'll likely stay in a hotel. Like my hoped for planned trip to Thrillerfest next year.

    And as for me winning yesterday's giveaway....YAAAAY! And thanks Glen Erik Hamilton and Ingrid Thoft.

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  5. I love hosting guests, and when I visit I try to do the same as you, Ingrid. Which reminds me, I owe my sister-in-law a thank you note right now for our lovely weekend in the New Hampshire mountain with them.

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  6. We don't host, usually because all our family is here. And the out-of-town ones stay with my in-laws. Also, we have two dogs and that's about as taxing a hosting duty can get. ;)

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    1. Speaking of dogs, when my sister was getting divorced she took the two dogs but couldn't keep them in her new apartment. So we ended up getting them as boarders.

      The first day they were there, I come home from work and open the door to go into house. They start barking at me like I'm the intruder.

      I just looked at them and said, "Hey! I LIVE here, you're the guests!" And they immediately stopped barking.

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  7. Wow, interesting thoughts from everyone so far.

    When Julie and I lived in San Francisco, friends and family came from far and wide to visit us. It got so busy that we kept a "guest" calendar. I remember Julie calling me one day asking if we had the weekend of October 21st available. I consulted the calendar, said we did but only if the expected company could be out by Sunday morning as we had another batch arriving on Monday. I needed a turn around day to get the beds changed, shop, all that.

    It was fun and exhausting and of course we were both working full time. But I love to cook and entertain, and Julie made sure we had a good supply of adult beverages. We had several car routes around the San Francisco area that we numbered Tour 1, Tour 2, etc. Once in a while someone came to stay and who didn't seem to have plans for leaving. That was problematic, and I remember relegating her to the couch when the guest rooms started filling up for the next week. Haven't seen nor heard from her since.

    All the above is true, swear to God, stack of Bibles and all that.

    Then we moved to Rochester, bought a huge old house, and sat back, waiting for them to come. Except for visits from my children and grandchildren, all too few and far apart, we rarely to never have company. The finished attic with bathroom is closed up for lack of use. The guest rooms have become landing spots for useless items that are on their way to the attic. Overnight guests are rare as dodos.

    On the other hand, it was a lot of work and more than I'm up to these days. We still entertain quite a few times a year, but for dinner only. All go home to their own beds at night. This works well. I cook and have a brand new kitchen to do it in. Julie does the pre-guest tidying up and the post-dinner clean up. Her entire family except for a couple of cousins live within ten miles, so that's that.

    As for staying with people when we visit, we now tend to go to a hotel. It is easier and the beds are better. And I can have all the pillows I want! It is easier on everyone.

    Lordy I sound like the Grinch this morning.

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    1. You do not sound like a Grinch. You sound like an adult who has developed useful strategies for including friends and family in your routine without making it a burden on everyone. The last time I stayed at my sister's house, I had to share the couch with my dogs at night. It was not a large couch. That kind of sleeping arrangement was fine when I was in college, but these days my tastes, and my back problems, have evolved.

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    2. You definitely don't sound like a Grinch, Ann! Quite the opposite!

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  8. We like having friends over for things: dinner, game nights, etc. Fortunately, they are all very considerate people who bring goodies and help clean up before they go. Unfortunately, many of them have very busy lives and we don't see them often. In fact, I don't think we've had anyone over in a year.

    We used to host Christmas and Thanksgiving. Now it's just Christmas. My brother-in-law comes for a good two weeks. He's easy. He eats whatever's put in front of him, is very grateful, helps with the chores, does his own laundry (he used to come for entire summers to watch the kids when they were younger and it was such a blessing).

    My father-in-law comes. He is not easy. He was the youngest of eight and even though he's in his 80s, in some ways he's still a child. Worse than my teenagers. My dad and step-mom come for a couple days. I'm glad to see them, but my father is a chronic complainer and my step-mom is "fussy" so it's a relief to see them go.

    So I guess I'm a selective host? Nice to see everyone, but after a few days I'm really glad for the peace and quiet!

    Mary/Liz

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  9. I have a guest room, my son's former bedroom. This past weekend, we got rid of his childhood double bed with its, er, sturdy bed frame and replaced with a twin bed and nice antique frame. The room is so open now! But we can only have single people over to stay. Sorry, couples, it's a hotel for you.

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  10. I have a large, functional guest room with its own bath, but rarely have guests to put in it. I mean, seriously, who would want to visit north Texas in the summer? And, although I have a bit of family left in Missouri, when I go to visit them I prefer to stay in a hotel. Like Keenan, I am an introvert. I enjoy my family, but at the end of the day I need some quiet time alone to decompress.

    I took my dog along the last time I visited my family. After one long evening, Chess made it clear he wanted to go out. But no, not out into the back yard with the fence. He wanted to go out the front door. When I put him on his leash to take him for a walk, he walked me straight to the car and sat down. Even he wanted to go back to the hotel for some peace and quiet.

    Years ago, when I would visit my aunt in San Francisco, I worked hard to clean up after myself, help with the cooking, and generally not be a pest. We had great times together, but even then I was eager to volunteer for dog walking duty. Sometimes it's important to have enough alone time to clear my head and savor the experience.

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  11. Our frequent house guests are our daughters and their families. I LOVE having them here but they don't feel like "guests" because they act as if they live here (which they did...) in a good way. My other favorite house guest is Lucy Burdette. ANY TIME, Lucy!

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  12. We love to host and do so quite frequently. Of course, we set the bar way higher than any of our guests would expect. There's always a scrumptious breakfast/brunch, outings planned for the day, cocktails in the early evening, and a homecooked dinner.

    We never expect anything of our guest: host gifts, paying for dinner out, or whateve; but of course most will do one of all of those things.

    Worst guest experience was actually family. Too long a story for here, but suffice it to say, they will not be invited back.

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    1. On my bucket list is a visit to you and Michael. Those pictures of scrumptious food are so great, and I want to try out those beautiful benches Michael made. I'm betting that it is hard for guests to leave your all's pampering.

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  13. House guests have been family. I have a tiny condo, though, so as the nieces and nephews got older(and larger) their families began staying in motels but coming here to eat. I loved it; I enjoy having people around. I'm more of a listener than a talker, and I enjoy hearing them talk about what's going on in their lives.Emails and phone calls are nice, but there's nothing like being together.

    Last week I had one of my sisters here from Saturday to Saturday. A week ago Monday I had minor surgery and needed someone here to help out. She's a teacher, so she had the freedom to come to CT. For both of us it was more like a vacation than a "take care of big sister" visit.(It was only carpal tunnel surgery but it was my dominant hand.) Each day we took a trip out, even if it was just to get a cup of coffee. We always drove past the beach(she lives in north central NJ and misses being near the water) and every night we went to see the sunset over the water.

    DebRo

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  14. I'm learning so much this morning about our readers! I would have assumed that more would fall on the side of hosting, but I certainly understand he inclination not to. I think all of us need to go visit Ann in Rochester!

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    1. Bring it on Ingrid. Is a bit chilly here today but most of you won't mind. Dinner tonight is shrimp linguine aliol olio

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    2. Sorry to be a disappointment Ingrid, but I'm sure you can find a nice hotel if you ever decide to do Cape Cod book signing. (Not that that is a hint or anything...)

      Plus I think you already figured out that I can be a cranky SOB, wouldn't want to ruin our friendly bantering.

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    3. It could never be ruined, but never fear; I prefer hotels!

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    4. awwww...getting the feels from knowing our friendly bantering can't be ruined. I tell you, finding your first book in paperback on the grocery store shelve sure has become a highlight in my life. :D

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  15. Ah. Family, sure, come on over, but I'm not doing ANYTHING. Here's the fridge. Which I will fill. Other guests--ahhhhhh. I love the idea but the reality is difficult. I always want to, like, PAINT THE BATHROOM FIRST! And it's so--forgive me, really--but disruptive. To everyone, you know? Even though we have enough bathrooms. Dinner? sure, ANYTIME. But staying over? Not so much.. And on the opposite, end, I don't like to stay at other people's houses, either. Because it's so much work for them! Hotel is fine.. Am I terrible?

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    1. I always prefer to stay at a hotel, Hank, except when it comes to my mom. Even then, if the house is packed, I like to stay someplace local, but quiet, where I don't have to stand in line for a shower!

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    2. You are not terrible Hank. Going to dinner with people is good but why ruin a good meal by staying over. HA!

      Of course, given my eating preferences, even a meal would be an adventure.

      And Ingrid, yes indeed...the lack of a need to stand in line for a shower is a BIG thing. Hotel room works best.

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    3. One of the best things we did was put a shower in the basement bathroom. Very little waiting in line. And we have a toilet on every floor, so practically no waiting on that front. =)

      Mary/Liz

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  16. The only guests I have are immediate family, daughter and her family or my granddaughters or my son. Of course, there's my husband, too (hehehe), as he lives elsewhere for his work and is home about every six weeks. Oh, and I shouldn't forget my current house guest, my daughter's pug Lucy, who is staying with me for ten days. I don't do too much extra these days. I make sure I have plenty of food in, usually too much, and clean sheets on the beds. I do like to make sure everyone is comfortable and not too bored, so there are extra throws and baskets of readily accessible books, besides the books on the shelves, and a candle, and I will occasionally even put a mint on the pillow.

    When I go back to my hometown and visit, I prefer to stay in a hotel. Like others here, I feel it's nice to have some alone time and also not to disrupt family schedules and sleeping arrangements. And, I can get in some reading time when I get in the bed, and I sleep better.

    Ingrid, I have to mention the awesome napkins you give as a hostess gift. So cool! I have tried to take the host a little something, too, when I've stayed somewhere and definitely pay for at least one dinner out.

    I can't let this subject matter pass without posting a link to what was my prose reading when I was in high school. I picked it out myself, and it is the opposite problem of a guest deciding to stay to long. It is the problem of a guest feeling he can't leave (but also of the family wondering why he doesn't leave). It is entitled "The Awful Fate of Melpomenus Jones" by Stephen Leacock, and I still get a chuckle out of it. I found an animated version of it, so here's the link. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kGcALHs8PsI

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    1. That's hilarious, Kathy! The napkins are from Oriental Trading Company, and they're always a hit! They're out of stock at the moment, but they should get more in. http://www.orientaltrading.com/scary-movie-night-beverage-napkins-a2-13611091.fltr?keyword=13611091

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  17. I do like hosting. Our guest room is lovely (or so I think anyway) and it's adjoining bathroom can be shut off so that it's only accessible to the guest room. I try to make everything as comfortable as possible. I would not, however, recommend that anyone come visit in July or August, as that room is one of the warmest in the already warm house!

    And I've been hosted with such lovely hospitality over the years, but my hostess-with-the-mostess awards go to our own Lucy Burdette, and to my friend Franny in Kansas City, whose house I never want to leave when I go to visit. So don't make your guests too comfortable!

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    1. I've stayed over with Debs a time or two--several times on invitation, and once on the spur of the moment when a huge storm front, complete with tornadoes, blew up between where I worked and where I lived. I couldn't drive through it to get home, but I could drive north to Debs' place and avoid it. She is truly a gracious hostess, no matter what the circumstances, and her guest room is lovely. The food is good, too. Thanks, Debs!

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  18. I love having my family here. And close friends. Not thrilled with second hand contacts... My husband's father's secretary etc.i expect them to help out and not drink the beer when no one is looking

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    1. I might have written that, Rhys, so I will just say, yes indeed. Chortle.

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  19. As the number of grandchildren has increased, the numbers of other guests has decreased here. We have owned this house on Cape Cod for almost thirty years, and have happily hosted the kids' friends and our own friends.

    I am nostalgic for the summers my aunts would come, sometimes with one of my uncles -- we used to call their visits Camp Denise the Niece --

    Right now my husband and I are "hosting" our youngest daughter with her baby -- it has been pure bliss.

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    1. I've lived just off Cape for more than 40 years and other than going to some basketball games just over the bridge, I can count on both hands the number of times I've been over the bridge. Particularly in the summer when traffic is akin to a new circle of Dante's hell.

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  20. Pretty much family and occasional college friends. All easy guests - pleasant and helpful. Sadly, I have no amusing horror stories! I do need to take some down time for myself in the midst of the visiting. But no one is ever offended because - well, see above - they are all pleasant and helpful people.

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  22. Related, though not exactly the same as being a houseguest-
    We're planning a trip out of the country and the choice arose: hotel? B and B? We ended up choosing a self-catering flat because it was the best combination of both: access to a kitchen and laundry, and a chance to live "amongst the people"...but no need to worry whether our hosts would be put out by my husband's snoring or the sight of me pre-coffee (it's not pretty, trust me!).

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    1. This sounds like a great idea, Jennifer. I love going to grocery stores in foreign countries and with a kitchen, you'll be able to do more taste testing!

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  23. Those murder-themed cocktail napkins are hilarious! Also I need to check out Harbor Sweets... where do you buy them?

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