Handling house guests
Congratulations, you survived your move to Europe! While there are amazing and fantastic places to see, living overseas comes with a caveat, the inevitable houseguests. We’ve lived in some tourist-happy places, including Japan, Hawaii and now Germany. We’ve had our share of house guests — good, bad and borderline friendship wrecker. Here are a few tips we’ve learned along the way.
Make it comfortable
Let’s face it; no one really wants to sleep on the broken-down futon hiding underneath the dirty laundry. Treat your guests as you would want to be treated. If you have an extra guest room, create a small sanctuary for them. Something as simple as clean sheets, a laundry basket and some fresh flowers can be inviting and welcoming. If you’re recycling a family member’s room, be sure he gets his things out of the room before the guests arrive. This can help prevent some potentially awkward moments, especially when getting ready in the morning or going to bed at night.
Before your guests arrive, ask for a list of preferred snacks and drinks. Because we are overseas, sometimes their favorites aren’t available, so be sure to let them know ahead of time. Write down the password for Wi-Fi access and leave it
in their room. If you have four different remotes for working your TV, like we do, it’s also helpful to write down instructions for how to use them.
Depending on where your guests arrive from, they will most likely experience jet lag. Timezone hopping isn’t easy; remember how hard it was when you first arrived. They may be communing with the blankets and pillows more than you for those first few days.
If you’re helping your guests plan their trip itinerary, be sure to allow for a couple of down days here or there. My parents just spent three weeks with us. They wanted to go, go, go, but I knew that they would need time in between destinations to decompress, unwind and, of course, do laundry. I built in travel days and down days, and they were grateful for the days when pajamas were the wardrobe du jour.
Say yes ... and no
“Can I help you with anything?” This question is the hardest one for me to answer. The people-pleasing perfectionist in me always wants to say “no.” My guests are on vacation and should just be relaxing, right? Yes, but if they’re asking,
let them help. My mom offered to make dinner a few nights a week. Rather than try to do it all, I bit the bullet and gave her the green light. It made her feel useful, and I was happy to have some of my favorite childhood dishes again.
While it’s good to say “yes,” it’s also okay to say “no.” Being a good host doesn’t mean that you have to be a doormat. If your guests are being unreasonable or downright rude, it’s OK to say “no.” You don’t have to be the cruise director or the chauffeur. If you live near public transportation, give your guests a crash course in how to use it and some ideas of what to do —on their own. It’ll give them a sense of independence and give you a break.
Sharing is caring
There will be times when your guests will drive you crazy, and you’ll be staring at the calendar wishing they would go. Don’t let things build up so much that it has the potential to ruin relationships. Take a break for a moment and just breathe. Go for a walk, sit down for coffee and figure out what is working and what needs some tweaking. If all else fails, check with your local lodging or billeting to see if there are any rooms available.