How to Host House Guests

ImagePart 1 of my 2 part series posted on Mitten Stretcher. Cuz, ya know, we’ve all had really really good house guests… and some really really bad ones.

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It’s summertime, or as anyone living away from where they grew up refers to it, house guest season.Summer brings in guests like none other. College friends wanting a break from their normal pace, siblings on summer vacation, parents wanting to enjoy the beautiful weather and enjoy some scenery, that friend who’s constantly job searching, or someone needing a couch and a shoulder to cry on after a dramatic breakup. No matter the reason, if you live somewhere that has some level of excitement, people want to visit you. And they will.

So brace yourselves. House guests can be awesome, but they can also create some big rifts in a relationship.

Having lived in Washington, D.C. for three years, I’ve seen my share of house guests. But trust me, with a little thought and care, you can survive it, even if just barely. Here are some handy tips.

1) Define space. Everyone likes to know where they belong. And someone staying in your living room does too. Maybe they don’t have their own room, but they’re surely sleeping somewhere and need a place for their luggage. 

On arrival, let your guest know where their things belong and there’s a better chance they’ll follow your lead.

2) Point out the necessities. Maybe you’re working during the day, but your guest won’t be tagging along. Show them the necessities. A towel, extra toilet paper, snacks/ food that they’re welcome to and of course drinks that are theirs for the taking.

3) Be a better you. It’s really hard to expect guests to be super neat and tidy if you’re not. You need to set the expectation you have for them through example. Don’t want dirty cups left on your coffee table? You better make sure to load your dishwasher regularly and leave your shoes by the door, or be prepared for the worst. 

As much as I struggle with this sometimes, making your bed daily should be high up on that list. If you don’t cleanup your sleeping area, your guest surely won’t fold up their blankets on the air mattress. So make them think you’re neater than you really are.

4) Suggest activities. Face it, you aren’t always able to/ wanting to spend every second of your guest’s trip with them. But you still need to help them find things to do. A week or two before they arrive, send them an email with some suggestions to get them thinking. 

Pro-tip: keep a word document with a list of your favorite things to do in your city. Have contact information, directions and a sentence or two about it contained, and then edit the document to send to guests that are coming. It’ll save you time, but also make life easier for your guest.

5) Make an agenda-ish. Most people don’t like to live on a minute-by-minute schedule, but rough outlines work wonders in situations like this. I’m not saying plan out every bathroom break, but get an idea if you’re going to cook dinner on Saturday or go out somewhere; go to some sort of famous landmark during the day or patio-drink all afternoon.

You don’t have to print it out or put it into your phone’s calendar, but just outline what sorts of things could be done and then go for it.

6) You’re already doing a lot.  Ok, this is easier said than done for me. But you need to remember, you are giving your guest a free place to stay. In a place like D.C., that means saving them at least $100 a night. At least.

You are already doing a lot for them, and no matter how close they are to you, you should not feel the need to do everything for them during their entire stay. Making some meals is great, but it is completely reasonable to think and expect that they should do *something* to show a small sign of gratitude. Maybe it’s taking you to dinner, maybe it’s a nice bouquet of flowers, but something.

7) Live your life. Often, these friends or family that are coming to stay want to see your life. They want to know what bar you crawl into at last call, or how you typically spend a Saturday. Don’t feel the need to put on a fake show entirely for them, let them fold into your life.

This doesn’t mean letting them watch you readThe Catcher in the Rye all day on your couch, but it also doesn’t mean eating at the most expensive restaurants in town for every meal just to show off (well… unless that’s your goal, I guess.)

8) Give them spare keys. There is nothing worse than always needing to be within a few minutes from home, in case your guest resurfaces and needs to get into the house. Put a little trust in your friend and get spare keys made and clearly explain any lock particularities, or codes they’ll need for entry.

9) Keep it cool. It’s your home, they’re your rules. This applies to just about everything during house guest season. But really, set your thermostat at a level that would make you comfortable, but that also won’t kill your energy bill. Keeping your place fairly cool in the summer will also set the tone and hopefully your guest will get comfortable, instead of taking it upon themselves to adjust the air on their own.

10) Stock up on alcohol. Face it, no matter how amazing your friend may be, or how excited you are to see them, something’s not going to be perfect. They’re going to cramp your style, they’re going to mix up your routine, and well, it comes with the territory of house guests. So be ready to pour a strong , stiff drink at a moment’s notice.

Times like these call for maybe moving that $100 of single-barrel bourbon out of plain sight and stocking up on something more affordable that’ll do in a pinch, but is also drinkable.  Now start pouring, you’re going to need it.

See more of my postings on Mitten Stretcher.

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Oops, I forgot about you.

Woa, where has the time gone? I’m going to have to stop trying to make excuses as to what life obstacle got in my way and took me away from blogging for so long. A new job. Vacation. Summer sunning. Summer drinking. Sumer cooling. The list could go on.

Instead of pretending that I will be able to finish every saved draft I’ve created and forgotten about. Let’s try killing a few birds with one stone. I present to you my compilation: My Month in the Kitchen (or so). Here are some of the fun things that I’ve been up to over the last couple of months…

Bourbon Brownies

Bourbon Brownies

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Mushy… and a Surprise

I would be remiss not to wish you all a very wonderful Valentine’s Day first of all. I don’t get all hallmarky over it like some, but I also don’t subscribe to the “singles appreciation day” that some do. I’m just some sort of a middle ground guy. Hey, I’m like Mitt Romney when he ran for governor. Oh wait, he wasn’t even that moderate, shit. Well… I’m not going to do a complete 180 like that.

Valentines day is fine. It’s a bit overrated. And heck, I feel this way now that I’m in a relationship, and I did before when I was single. It’s all the same. But I’ll take an excuse for some bubbly and chocolate. Bring it.

Before I get to what’s going on in Shaw tonight, let’s talk about my mush. No, not my being overly mushy (I can’t make any promises after champagne), but rather the mush that my hands were shoved in the other night…
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The Cost of Thinking Healthy

I have a gym membership. Yet, I often like to think of my gym as my good acquaintance. One who is always there for me when needed, but I can easily hide away for as long as I so desire.

But at the same time, I know that without this mighty membership key fob, I would tell myself that I will go for evening runs, or do yoga at home, or any of the other things that people do, and then never do it. But what is the cost?

Maybe I have started a month back on the wagon-o-workouts, or maybe not, but as of today I have gone to the gym twice this month! That’s every day of the calendar month so far! Go me. That means I get to eat a second piece of pie tonight annnd smother it with ice cream and feel zero guilt.

Well what that also means is that to date, each of my workouts has cost me $30. I have attempted to think of my time at the gym as simply lowering my costs, in hopes that it will motivate me to go more often. You see, last month I *thought* a lot about going to the gym. And well, I really wanted to. But, things just, uh, happened and the gym and I kept our distance. There goes one month membership down the drain. But then there are also good months…months where I go multiple times a week for the entire time and my cost of working out is like $7.

So maybe that’s it. Maybe I just have to tell myself that I am wasting money. But how could I ever cancel? Once that happens, I might as well get my spandex sweat pants and over-sized nascar tee ready and just run with it.

I repeat: I have gone to the gym every day this month.

Standards are out the Window

My normal morning goes something like this: Get dressed, walk Sophia, eat, walk to work, get settled, have a cup of coffee.

That first cup has long been my welcome to the morning. Without it, I feel in a bit of a haze, but once he enters my day, things start taking shape.

And it’s interesting. My relationship with coffee is much like bad relationships past.  He’s there when I need him, he gets me going, but indulge a bit too much and its all crazy from there. And this is when I started implementing the one cup rule.

When I started my current job, if nothing else, I was hugely excited for the free Keurig coffee! Oh yeah, baby, 12 flavors stocked daily, all you can consume, WHAT CAN GO WRONG?! Yeah, we all know where that one went (hence the one cup rule.)

But now, as the weather becomes frigid, my numb hands unable to move when I get to my desk, all that can save me is that hot, bitter beauty. And then once she’s gone, what happens? I give in. I give into the trap and drink more. And note, my one cup rule is broken.

What makes matters worse is the loosening of the coffee standards I once possessed. I suppose they come and go, but having access to wonderful coffee flavors daily should, in fact, force me to become pickier, right? Hmm, if I catch myself drinking “Maine Blueberry Coffee” again I swear…

But really, the cheap crappy blends? Sure, why not. The industrious catering pot having who-knows-what inside of it, sure, sounds easy.

And this is the source of my problem. A cup of crappy coffee has to be followed by a proper cup, just to balance the world out. And I mean, seriously, why does decaf even exist? If I am going to drink coffee, I’ll deal with the extra twitches.

Needless to say, I’ve had more than one cup. And also needless to say, I need to go back to that daily rule, and work on those standards.

Boycotting Halloween

This has got to be a first in at least a while. But this year I seem to have unintentionally/intentionally boycotted Halloween.

It wasn’t just laziness, but more so a lack of excitement. I mean I like gorging on a bag of fun-size kit kats as much as the next guy, but why do I have to do that while shivering in leggings? Ok, maybe its just memories of unfortunate Halloweens past, but this year I am staying put. Sure there were parties with fun people, outlets to binge drink on punch and spiked cider, but I’d rather do that on my couch well watching Hocus Pocus. And well, thats kinda what I did all weekend. That and buy boots.

It’s funny, I remember my days of high school, being obsessed with Halloween. It wasn’t really about my costume — something I would haphazardly throw together with items I gathered from family members, or random things I found at the local Value Village. For me it was all about the theatrics behind it. Building elaborate displays in my front yard, full of months of creations was a regular thing for years. Maybe my ridiculousness back then got the bug out of me, or maybe I am just becoming a bitter 20-something.

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