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Good Hosts, Guests Set Rules For Stay
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Holiday celebrations with the whole family present often become memorable for their conflicts as hosts and guests tangle under the stress of empty time and close quarters.
Dr. Louise Davis, child and family development specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said the change in living patterns can place a burden on both hosts and guests. Planning ahead and communicating well are keys to a happy stay.
"Center the visit around enjoying each other's company, not on stressful efforts at entertaining," Davis said. "Hosts can explain house rules such as dinner times and scheduled events, but should respect the guests' needs and wishes."
When visitors are coming, find out how long they plan to stay and determine any food allergies and dietary concerns. Plan for simple meals during the visit, and cook ahead when possible.
"Visitors shouldn't expect a tremendous variety and amount of food prepared for them, but hosts should have a supply of food available for whenever guests are hungry," Davis said. "Thoughtful guests should take their hosts out to eat as an expression of their gratitude for the hospitality."
To make guests feel more at home, help them find a way to contribute to the running of the household. This may mean sharing some chores such as cooking or running errands. It is also important to help guests maintain a spirit of independence during their stay.
Before guests arrive, hosts should find out if anyone is allergic to pets and should consider boarding their own during the visit. A full house and a pet can be difficult on everyone. If visitors are new to town, provide a map with points of interest so they can entertain themselves if they choose. If the guests have children, have games and videos available for their use.
The success of a visit is not completely the responsibility of the hosts. Guests must do their part for the visit to be a pleasant one.
"If you're a guest, don't insist on being involved in everything and don't interfere with the discipline of someone else's children," Davis said.
When leaving, visitors can request supplies so they can clean up behind themselves. They also can change the sheets on beds, collect used towels and be sure the guest room is left how they found it.
"Be open and flexible anytime houseguests are involved," Davis said. "Both the hosts and the guests need to respect each others' space and allow down time in the schedule."