Fish and guests. We know. We’ve been there (on both sides). So heed our advice from the trenches and follow our tips to make holiday visits as smooth as possible.
1. Be timely. Reply to invitations quickly, arrive as expected, and leave as planned. If there are any changes, notify your host immediately.
2. Bring a token of appreciation. A gift. Dinner out during your stay. Food or wine. Be thoughtful about it. Airport magnets… not so much.
3. Thank them. Not only profusely when you arrive, but also after your trip. And a plain email doesn’t cut it. Include some pictures from your visit or do it the olde fashioned way and send a note via regular mail.
4. Give them space. Even the closest friends will drive each other crazy in the closest of quarters. If your hosts have kids, offer to babysit so mom and/or dad can enjoy an outing together sans others. While you’re at it, work in some alone time for yourself. (See next item.)
5. Plan. Don’t rely on your hosts to show you around. Ask when they are available and what they’d be interested in doing. Plan the rest of your stay around them and tell them about your plans. You don’t want to sit around on the couch staring uncomfortably at each other.
6. Don’t be a slob. You’re more than 7 years old. Make your bed, pick up your towels, don’t leave chip crumbs on the sofa, clean up after yourself, and keep your area tidy. If you’re on a fold-out sofa, close it up during the day. Never leave laundry out.
7. Table manners #1: there is only one menu. It’s the chef’s specialty. Accept it graciously. Under no circumstances should you attempt to order off the menu.
8. Table manners #2: offer to set the table, clear the table, do dishes, and any general mealtime preparation or clean up.
9. Don’t overindulge. Food, booze, whatever. Take your cue from your hosts and don’t be the embarrassing drunk friend (brother, niece, uncle, mother, in-law…)
10. Be considerate in general. Don’t hog the bathroom. BYO… toiletries. Be quiet at bedtime. Don’t leave lights on. Make good conversation.
We can all use an Etiquette 101 refresher course. The holidays are a perfect time to put these rules of thumb into play. After all, remember why your visiting in the first place... to be with people you like, so don't make waves! With all the stress of the season, no one wants to be a pain in the Xmas.