As a reluctant soon to be house guest, what are the expectations on both sides?
We’ve been invited for Labor Day weekend to what my boss calls his summer house. As house guests, what is expected of us? The cost of flying there and back is prohibitive enough without having to buy a house present, which my wife seems to think we have to bring. What are the expectations – on both sides?
–G.W., Brooklyn, NY
To say the least, you sound reluctant about your upcoming adventure as a house guest.
The rich live differently from the rest of us. No doubt, your host has paid for many airplane trips to his summer house and is aware of the cost. Find out ahead of time what is expected of you in terms of what you should bring.
- Will you be going sailing, playing golf, tennis, cycling? Having boat shoes for the sailboat and all white attire for the tennis court may be mandatory requirements.
Your question about dress code and your attire should prompt your host to remind you to bring a blazer and tie to wear at a party they’re hosting, or he might say, “don’t forget to bring your clubs.”
- My favorite is, “Bring old clothes for the clambake.”
- We’ve even had a host ask us if there was anything we’re allergic to or if we had any dietary needs.
- If you’re planning to bring a child or pet in tow, be sure to communicate any requirements, such as a babysitter, crib, or dog walker — should you be on a boat for the day.
The best you can do is to arrive on time and be a self-sustaining guest. It’s annoying when a guest is needy for this or that and is never on time.
Arrive with a token gift – or send it ahead of time – such as a book on sailing, a cookbook, or another interest of your host. You needn’t spend over a hundred dollars.
Friends once arrived with the most memorable gift ever, homemade jam. We had a great aunt who always packed a loaf of her freshly baked organic bread in her suitcase.
When you arrive find out the drill for the day and the rest of your visit, and think of it as your itinerary.
Then ask if there is anything you can do to help out; for instance if they are hosting a cookout and you’d like a turn at the grille.
- Guests who have stayed a week are known to have installed simple lighting in our garden, and another put shelves in the garage. It was a gift of their time and the expense was minimal. In other words, make yourself useful when you can.
Depending how long you’re guesting it, make yourselves scarce once a day to simply take a walk or explore the local museum or library.
The morning of the day you leave ask what you should do about your bed linens and towels: take them off the bed and fold them leaving them at the foot of your bed or take them to the location of the washer and dryer. Likewise, empty any waste baskets in your room or bathroom.
- If there is a staff member assigned to the task, ask if you should leave a small tip, especially if someone has gone out of their way to iron your trousers or bring you Advil or a hairdryer.
Once home, reflect on the highlights of your adventure and remind your host in your thank-you note that you really had a great time.
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Accepting A Compliment