Summer is here, and that means summer visitors are a real possibility, and since August is National Family Fun Month, your extended family might want to spend it with you. If you have a spare bedroom, and especially if you live in a destination city, you might find that summertime brings unexpected houseguests and requests to “crash at your place” from friends and relatives you might not have heard from in a while. If you’re wondering how to handle extra people under your roof, here are some tips to help you survive summertime visitors.
- Plan ahead, if possible. If you know you have house guests coming, preparing ahead of time can help everyone enjoy the visit more. Plan meals (or at least have a list of meal ideas), places to go, things to do, and various activities for all sorts of weather conditions. Think through the details on how to implement these plans and leave room for anything your guests may already have on their bucket lists. If there is a local or state fair or carnival that will be in town during your guests’ stay, find out the hours and days, the price of admission for all age groups, and think about transportation options. Same with trips to the lake, state parks, local museums, aquariums, or famous landmarks and attractions.
- Stay flexible. No matter how much fun you think a certain activity may be for all concerned, it will be a disaster if you force it on a group of houseguests who aren’t interested. Sometimes all your guests want to do is spend time hanging out and visiting with you. If that’s the case, it’s a good idea to have playing cards, board games, puzzles, and a few family-friendly videos on hand for everyone to enjoy. A night spent at home hanging out by the firepit in the backyard making s’mores will be a lot more fun than going somewhere no one wants to go.
- Manage your expectations. Even though some family and house guests may want to monopolize your time and conversation, the opposite may also be true; you could have a loner in your midst. Don’t take it personally if one of your guests needs a little time alone. Everyone has their version of “vacation” and for some, that may mean being left to their own devices for a day.
- Establish (and maintain) your boundaries. You are the host, but that doesn’t mean you have to be the cook, cleaning service, and entertainment coordinator. It’s okay to let your house guests know if you have plans that don’t include them or that they are welcome to make their own meals and show them where to find things in your kitchen (be sure to include a tutorial on how the dishwasher works!). You can put a list of eateries within walking distance in their room or on the refrigerator, let them know where the closest Starbucks is if they want to grab a cup of coffee in the morning, or offer your bicycle if they want to explore the city on their own. If you have a massage, book club meeting, or date night planned with your spouse, let your house guests know they are free to relax and watch television while you’re out, but don’t cancel your plans.
- Encourage your guests to take an active role in any plans you make during their visit. Invite them to help plan and put together a group dinner. Let the guests choose the menu, help with the grocery shopping, and prepare the meal. If you have a house guest who loves to cook, offer to be the sous-chef and let them have the kitchen while you pour the drinks and set the table. Get the kids involved by showing them how to fold napkins, make place cards out of construction paper, or use a chalkboard to post the night’s menu.
- Put a welcome basket with everything they need in the guest bedroom to avoid repeated requests for towels, water glasses, bottled water, shampoo, or a toothbrush that could make your guest feel awkward. This is a great opportunity to get rid of all the little bottles of shampoo, conditioner, and lotion you’ve brought home from hotels over the years.
The best house guests are the ones who help clean up, know when to spend time on their own, and offer to take you out to dinner in return for hosting them in your home. We hope all your summer guests are the kind you want to invite to stay again and again.