Monday, July 16, 2012

Gracious Guesting

Good guesting practices make all the difference between this:
and this:

'Tis the season, Graces.   Summer is prime time for guests.  This is especially true if one has access to a vacation home, but it also results from people traveling to various places, stopping to visit friends and family on the way.  Mostly this is a good thing; it's lovely to connect and reconnect, and as long as everyone plays nicely in the sandbox, then all is well.

Unfortunately, there are quite a few visitors who never learned the basic rules.

Case in point:  Beach house last Sunday night.  Just shut door on massive crowd (invited by a family member who did not read my previous post).  All breathed a sigh of relief.  Within minutes, that same family member received a text "I'm on the Causeway, be there in 20" from a friend who she had a cursory and inconclusive conversation with 3 weeks ago about coming to visit around July 4.  Despite never accepting the invitation or confirming any plans, this guy decided to come.  He arrived with his girlfriend late that evening.  The alleged plan was for them to spend the night, pass the following day at the beach, and leave in the evening. Four days later, they had not been dislodged.  The crowning moment came when I, mop in hand, bandana on head, sweat dripping with exertion from cleaning up after other people was asked by this Grunt, "We're heading to the beach; can you get me the badges?".  The fact that this chap did not find the mop handle shoved in one of his orifices is a true testament to my self control.

So, in light of that, it seems that people may need a bit of a refresher on Gracious Guesting Guidelines:

  • Accept or reject an invitation clearly and promptly.  Never, never, never show up without a relatively recent communique with the hosts confirming your plans.    Did I say never? 
  • Bring something.  Ideally, this is a gift that the hosts will find useful and enjoyable.  There are never enough towels at a beach or lake house.  I'm also a fan of soaps, cocktail napkins, wine/spirits, nonperishable gourmet foods, board games, and books. More ruminations on hostess gifts here.
  • Pull your weight during the visit.  Buy groceries and cook a meal,  provide takeout or treat the hosts to lunch or dinner in a restaurant.  Take the kids (or grownups) out for ice cream.  Walk the dogs.  Fold and stow the dried beach towels.  Mix a pitcher of cocktails.  We had a prime example of a great guest this past weekend.  Visiting relative who was invited for the weekend called me and said, "I'm bringing something, so you may as well tell me what would be useful.  I know you will get back to me, Grace, so I'm calling you.  A dinner?  Desserts for the weekend?  A case of wine?  Give me some advice or we risk duplication."  I called back, suggested a simple-to-reheat Italian dinner, and this Gracious Guest arranged for takeout lasagne, two salads, and garlic bread for the crew from a local restaurant in time for Saturday night's meal.    They'll definitely be invited back!  Wonder if he's busy this weekend...
  • Come when you say you're coming and--more importantly--leave when you say you're leaving.  I thought last week's pair were going to have to fill out a change of address form before much longer.  Fortunately, they did depart after four--yes, four--days.
I got a kick out of this article from about the 7 Worst Types of Houseguests.  So, Graces, what tales of woe or wonder can you share on this timely topic?


Bubbling Arroyo said...

Great tips on being a gracious guest. And so well timed too.

TortugaRachel said...

Thank you for these tips. My family and I try very hard to be both gracious guests and hosts. We have a small group of friends that we invite over regularly because they have such exquisite guest manners.

I would like to add to your first point, about accepting and rejecting invitations. If anything changes or needs to be adjusted, the sooner the notification, the better. Life happens, and sometimes it's unavoidable to be late or even not able to attend at all, even after one has responded, but don't leave a host hanging, give some sort of notification if at all possible, emergencies notwithstanding, of course.

Social Grace said...

Excellent points, TortugaRachel. Thanks for your comment.