On Being a Houseguest: A Refresher Before You Set Off for Thanksgiving

A couple weekends ago there was a long weekend in Italy.  A long weekend that I spent as a houseguest. I’m no stranger to staying with family for the weekend.  My parents and I are the only members of our family who live in New York; any trip to visit family generally turns into an overnight stay.  This journey, however, was the first one I made alone.  It was interesting and, overall, a positive experience.  With everyone getting ready to ship out for Thanksgiving, I thought it would be a good idea to look at what I believe to be the three most important guidelines for a successful houseguest/host relationship.  Let’s review.

1. Please, please, please don’t leave all the decisions to the houseguest, let’s share the responsibility.  This one is always an interesting point that my family and I debate quite a bit when people come to visit us in New York.  Should the guests be the ones to say what they want to see and do or should that responsibility fall to the host, who undoubtably knows the city better?  I’m going to say it’s a mix, but don’t make me decided what everyone else is going to eat for dinner.  The first evening, I was asked what I wanted for dinner.  My response, well, what can I have for dinner?  As a houseguest, I don’t want to have to make the big decisions, I want to be cared for.  What ended up happening that evening was a pizza outside.  It’s not something I would normally have chosen but when asked if I like pizza and not given many other options, that’s what I’ll choose.  Hosts: house guests don’t know what their options are.  House guests: ask what your options are.  You don’t have to decide for everyone.

2.  Let’s plan the day and communicate.  I’m not adverse to having no idea what’s going on, but when you’re being tossed around from family member to family member, it would be nice if we were all on the same page.  This is an issue when I go to visit family in America and it was an issue when I went to visit family in Italy.  Us house guests should ask if there is a plan for the day and be vocal if there is any thing we don’t like or any specific thing that we want to do.  Hosts, please tell people what you thought they might like to do and make suggestions if they have no idea.  They might not and they would love to know what you think.  Both sides should be sharing what they love with each other.

3. Your home isn’t really my home.  While some house guests might feel perfectly comfortable poking through their hosts’ cabinets to find tea or milk, most probably won’t.  I won’t.  While some hosts might want everything to be open, most probably won’t.  Again, on communication, guests, let’s ask for what we want in the house.  If you really hate the television being on while you eat dinner or really don’t want to rummage through someone else’s drawers, ask for what you want.  Hosts, let people know where the things they might want are.  If someone is staying in your house, you know them well enough to know what they might like.  Let us know if there are any quirks in your routine and whether or not shoes are okay in your house.

Are there any things that I’m missing out?  Let’s discuss!

Are you going away for Thanksgiving?  Are you hosting people for Thanksgiving?  Any advice for houseguests?

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