houseguests: consideration is key

Houseguests: Consideration is Key

It’s the season of travel: time to visit and be visited.  Love it or hate it, it’s a part of life.  No matter how close your relationship is, sharing space with another person can be stressful for both the host and the guest.  It can also be wonderful: long chats over coffee in the morning and relaxing meals spent reminiscing.  How can we make the most of our visits?  When it comes to houseguests, a little consideration goes a long way.

My Inspiration

Earlier this month, I had the opportunity to visit San Diego.  I haven’t spent much time on the West Coast of the U.S.  So, when my daughter was kind enough to offer to “hold down the fort,” I jumped at the chance to explore somewhere new.  Especially since I have a friend who lives there and had offered to be my tour guide. 

I pride myself on being a seasoned traveler and definitely should know better, but I didn’t give this trip much thought or preparation.  Luckily for me, my friend, Marsha, was in top form.  From start to finish, she was the ideal host.  She booked sought after restaurants, always had snacks and water handy, readily offered places for coffee breaks, and drove me to her favorite spots.  She even had the foresight to take me places for unique Christmas shopping.  Constantly checking in with me to make sure we weren’t doing too much or too little, her incredible consideration of my needs provided me with a vacation to remember.

houseguests-consideration is key
Visiting our friends in San Diego

‘Tis the Season

The holidays are a prime time for houseguests.  Whether you’re letting friends stay with you for their vacation or even just popping over to your colleague’s place for holiday drinks, sharing personal space is likely.  And being that the holidays are such a busy time of year, tension can run high. 

Houseguests: Consideration is Key

What can we do to make holiday memories that we actually want to recall?  My first thought was to suggest treating your host or guest like you want to be treated.  But that doesn’t necessarily work.  Just because we like to live one way doesn’t mean that someone else does too.  So I’ve come up with some suggestions that center around kindness and being more considerate of one another.

1. Be timely.

If your houseguests arrive and you’re still at the supermarket, it won’t be the warm welcome you or they imagined.  But also notice I didn’t title this tip, “don’t be late.”  Because being early can be just as bad.  I had a dinner party, and a guest showed up 20 minutes early.  As you may know from my post, Scruffy Hospitality, hosting dinners doesn’t come naturally for me.  I am usually running around the last 15 minutes trying to put on my makeup and finish the appetizers.  Your best bet is to just be on time. 

2. Consider the basics.

Thinking about people’s basic needs is important.  Providing access to food, water, clean linens and a bathroom seems obvious but is very uncomfortable if forgotten, especially if your houseguest is shy to ask.  And let’s not forget the needs of our hosts.  Basics like respecting noise levels and ensuring children or pets aren’t disrupting the household will be greatly appreciated.

3. Don’t make assumptions.

Communication is a key to success in any relationship, especially when you’re living together.  Take the time to discuss each other’s expectations.  Do you need to go to bed early or like to have coffee alone before you’re ready for a chat?  Is it important for you to make time for exercise?  Do you want to have a relaxed visit or are you ready for intense sight-seeing?  Don’t assume that you know what the other person needs; it’s better to ask.

4. Respect each other’s privacy.

Living together is a sure way to discover how much privacy someone needs.  Maybe you don’t mind walking around in your underwear at home.  Or perhaps you think it’s normal to look through someone else’s medicine cabinet.  But consider putting on a robe and asking first if you need an ibuprofen.  Better to err on the side of caution and respect each other’s privacy.  You might save yourself from seeing something you won’t be able to unsee and changing your relationship forever.

5. Try to be helpful.

Marsha taking time to think about what would be fun and useful for me made a huge difference in my trip to San Diego.  It’s also nice to lend a hand to your host.  Help with the dishes, offer to make a meal, or play with their baby while they make dinner.  Something I often overlook when I’m visiting is inadvertently leaving my things lying around…purse, sweaters, shoes by the couch.  There’s always a way we can make life easier for each other.

6.  Don’t forget little things can make a big difference.

It doesn’t take money to be thoughtful.  Putting a water glass and pitcher next to the bedside table or leaving a thank you note on the bed after you strip the sheets are little gestures that show you care.  Just like trying to be helpful, taking time to show a little extra love to your host or guest will be remembered.

The Most Wonderful Time

Whenever I write for my blog, I look up articles related to the topic.  Unsurprisingly, there were many ideas and tips for being the perfect host or guest.  One of my favorites was from The New York Post: “This is How to Be the Absolute Worst Houseguest.”  Complete with a top 10 list of the worst things guests can do, the one that made me laugh out loud was the guest who, “Got drunk and redid my Christmas decorations.”

Hopefully, you won’t have to experience anything as dramatic as that.  But it would be even better to experience joy with all your visits.  The holiday season can be the most wonderful time of the year.  And with a little consideration, reconnecting with friends and family will give you a renewed level of energy and happiness to take us into 2023. 

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