New rules for visiting

sudiepavApril 7, 2011

We just returned from 2 months at a beach house and I encountered some things I hadn't before when entertaining. What do you all think?

First, don't ask to use our computers. They're so personal, with passwords saved, etc. We had WiFi, but one couple told us it was just easier to log into ours. I told them I'd rather they didn't and felt that THEY felt rebuffed.

Next, don't fool with the electronics without being shown. This house had a complicated AV system, and we barely understood it ourselves. Twice, the TVs got so messed up by people randomly "mashing buttons". It took a long time to undo the mixups. Another time a man went into our bedroom to search for something else to watch, as he didn't like what the rest of us had chosen. I felt sort of "space invaded." Also, he messed up the remote.

Next get with the program. We had planned lots of nice activities and sightseeing things only to be told, "We don't like to walk that far." Maybe they couldn't, but we and they missed a lot of interesting things. I tried to get them to suggest alternative activities but they came up blank.

Lastly, please recognize that we tried hard and spent money to plan meals. We provided the hard and soft drinks that they said they liked. We had asked ahead of time for food likes and dislikes and kept those in mind, but when we tried serving guacamole, beef barbecue or homemade macaroni and cheese, we were told by one of the parties (and not always the same one) that "I don't eat that."

Am I being picky? These people are all longtime friends and have entertained us. When we've been their guests, we've always gone with the flow and participated in whatever was presented.

Next year when we go back, I am going to think long and hard about who I invite and how we will all get along together for a week. BTW, this was a huge house with plenty of space for everyone to "do their own thing."

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Totally agree on the computers and electronics, and the wandering into your bedroom.
The activities, I would tend to have a huge wish list to choose from that included all kinds of things to do, with different levels of activity. Pick what everyone feels like on the day or have brochures etc available for your guests to browse to see if they fancy something. Otherwise, leave them to it while you enjoy yourselves.
The meals, yes, they were being ungracious but possibly running a meal plan by them pre-holiday or saying, "I was thinking of guacamole, beef barbecue and mac 'n' cheese, how do you feel about that?" or even having a couple of alternatives. If you served me a meal of cucumber, with the best will in the world I couldn't choke it down and you probably wouldn't think to ask beforehand how I felt about cucumber. You could also suggest you cook meals turn and turn about, that way everyone has at least one meal they like :-)

    Bookmark   April 12, 2011 at 5:54AM
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When having guests for dinner, I ask what they won't/can't eat. It's up to them to tell me. Then if I'm serving something they don't like, well, not my fault! However, I don't like going to the trouble of shopping and cooking only to have people not eat it.

From the guest's point of view, if I'm at someone's house and I am served a food I don't like, I just don't take it, or take a small amount and take one or no bites. I would never announce "I don't eat that". I find that to be just plain rude.

I don't look at everyone's plate to see what they ate or didn't eat when I'm hostess. So take what you like and don't make unncessary comments.

I also agree with the computers & bedroom being off limits. The TVs however, unless I was specifically told not to use the remotes because they are complicated, I would assume that they are just like any others. So it might be a good idea to put a sticker on each AV item that says to ask for help.

And as far as the sightseeing goes, well, when I go on vacation I go to DO things. Not to sit around. So I'd probably only invite people who wanted to go and do as well. To solve this, when you invite them, maybe include the potential itenerary. Something like, "would you like to join us at the beach house May 1-5. Our schedule while you are here will include the following activities..." That gives them the opportunity to express their preferences or to decline the invitation.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2011 at 1:30PM
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Lowspark's advice not to look at your guests' plates is excellent. Made me a much happier hostess when I learned that.

I do ask "What don't you eat?" -- NOT "What do/don't you like?" which just leads to "Everything/nothing" (which is NEVER true). And I specifically say, "What do you like to eat for breakfast?" If they say, "Oh, just whatever you eat," I mention that I usually have things like leftover Chinese food for breakfast. That gets me my info fast!

But once the company is there, use my grandmother's trick: DON'T ASK, just put stuff out. They will find something to eat there. For example, for breakfast, I'll put out bagels, cream cheese, cranberry and orange juices, cereals, coffee, and milk, maybe yogurt and/or fruit (none of which, except the coffee, am I likely to have ordinarily). If there is time, I'll make scrambled eggs or an omelette and just serve it to any takers. Don't discuss it and don't watch to see what or how much they eat, and everyone will be happy.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2011 at 1:28AM
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