A good friend of mine recently hosted a guest from Italy. The two women were very close, having lived together during my friend’s year-long experience in the fair nation of pasta and limoncello. Three days into the visit, the friend turned to fish. My friend texted me in frustration, asking what on earth she had been thinking. I couldn’t understand what could be so terrible, and she said this:
“Yesterday we spent 30 minutes at Dean and Deluca deciding if their espresso would be “acceptable”.”
I’m not sure she owned an espresso maker before this encounter, but I am pretty sure she does now.
Being a guest at someone’s house is as stressful as it is wonderful. It is so nice to spend time with loved ones, leisurely chatting on the couch, enjoying a homecooked meal, and pouring over boxes of pictures. At the same time, the awkwardness of being in someone else’s house, living with their customs, and exploring their quirks can be frustrating.
Don’t be the Italian girl. Do be the best guest they’ve ever had. Try these tricks:
Bring a Gift
Always always always. Whether you’re visiting your mother, a distant cousin, or your college roommate, always bring a gift. It sends a message of gratefulness. You are using their bed, their food, their water, and their precious oxygen. Here’s my favorite gifts for guest stays:
This is something we struggle with as humans. Be gracious! Be thankful for what you’ve got! If your host doesn’t drink coffee, have some chamomile tea. If they make lasagna when you’re in the mood for mexican, grin and bear it. These people are going out of their way to be kind to you – cooking you meals, cleaning your room, and hosting you in their home. Be thankful for their efforts! Above all, do not force them to buy an espresso maker – or overpriced espresso.
Ready for Anything
A few years ago, I stayed with family for the weekend to spend time with them. I knew they were very active, often golfing or attending Zumba lessons on Saturday morning. We all enjoyed coffee and bagels together bright and early, and then they went to get dressed for their weekly golf game/Zumba lesson. I knew they did this weekly, so I’m not sure why I was so surprised when they went during their visit. Polite hosts might have skipped this week, but we aren’t always guaranteed polite hosts. I wish I had thought to bring work out gear, or a golf outfit, and was ready to join them that morning. Knowing your hosts, be ready for anything they might propose. Do they have a hot tub? Bring a bikini. Do they have hiking paths near their home? Bring walking shoes. Do they have a great mall nearby? Bring an extra credit card.