Friday, December 21, 2007

Surviving holiday house guests

They're coming. You thought maybe this year would be different, but deep down you know it's inevitable. Oh yes, they're coming.

No, we're not talking about those few extra yuletide pounds or even the latest super-flu germs. We're talking about something with a far greater capacity for mayhem: holiday house guests.

As if the holidays weren't crazy enough, many of us will have the additional responsibilities of cooking for, cleaning up after, entertaining, and, yes, sharing our homes with the friends and family who choose this time of year to visit.

Fortunately, a few savvy strategies can help make the experience more enjoyable—or at least a little saner—for both you and your temporary roommates.

Recently asked its readers to submit their favorite tips and tricks for making holiday guests feel welcome without making themselves feel like they need a padded cell. Here are the top 10 responses:

  1. Tell guests who have visited before, "The first time you're a guest, the second time you're family," meaning they're welcome to anything in the house but are expected to clean up after themselves. Make sure you show them where everything is (food, dishes, towels, laundry supplies, etc.) so you needn't wait on them hand and foot.

  2. Put them to work. Most considerate guests are always asking if there's anything they can help with; don't feel bad about taking them up on it!

  3. Create a list of meals you've planned to prepare and enjoy together at home, and place it on the fridge. Guests will know which food items are "off limits," plus it solves the problem of preparing a huge dinner only to find out they've had a huge lunch.

  4. Leave a container of Clorox wipes on the bathroom counter ("hint, hint, please clean up after yourself").

  5. Remember all those hotel-size shampoos, lotions, and soaps you just couldn't bear to leave behind? Pile them into a decorative basket in your spare bathroom for guests to use as they please, so they won't need to keep borrowing yours.

  6. Designate a "travel-free zone." This is one room in which there are no open suitcases, no clothes lying around, no miscellaneous clutter allowed, preferably the living room. (If you have guests sleeping in your living room, just ask them to stash their stuff in your bedroom—or at least in a corner—during the day.)

  7. Every night, get the morning coffee ready to brew, so that whoever is up first can just switch it on (and so you won't be awakened with plaintive cries of "Ummm, where did you say you keep the filters?").

  8. Ask guests to give you their itinerary of day trips, parties, planned visits, etc., so you know when you'll have some downtime to yourself.

  9. Don't let it stress you out! As one reader puts it, "As long as the laundry is up to date and the bathroom is kept clean, most of the other housekeeping stuff can wait."

  10. Move. If they can't find you, they can't stay with you ... kidding, kidding!!!

And what if you're the guest this year? To ensure that you complete your stay with your friendships intact—and with the possibility of returning—check out 10 Ways to Be an Excellent House Guest, courtesy of The Frugal Law Student.

Happy visiting, ladies!


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