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Prepare to be a guest in someone else’s home

With Christmas Day a mere seven days away, many of you might be heading out of town soon.  Your weekend plans may be laundry, packing, and closing up the home for the next few days.

Or if you’re staying home, there’s a likely chance you’re about to welcome guests in to your home life for the next few days or weeks.  Either way, being a guest or hosting a guest can be stressful.

Corey wrote some great tips this week about how to handle in-law stress over the holidays.  And not too long ago, I republished my tips for hosting overnight guests at home.  I also recently wrote about helpful tips for taking a big vacation with small children.
12 weeks till christmas on simple mom
So today, for our last task for 12 Weeks to a Peaceful Christmas, I’ll focus on some ideas for being a gracious guest, and how to keep your family sane and unified while staying in someone else’s home.

1.  Be flexible — this is temporary.

Yes, routines are important for kids.  But during this short time away for the holidays, it’s okay to lax on the everyday rules and let the days linger more haphazardly.

You might be sightseeing, or your might just be succumed to your host’s daily routine.  Either way, it’ll be a lot less stressful if you let go of your normal schedule and let the “holiday routine” take center stage.

2.  But protect the essentials in your day.

That said, there are some things that are just important to a family’s day.  With small children, I find it especially important to put a hedge of protection around naptimes and bedtimes.  Sure, there are a few days they can stay up late, and a family outing might necessitate a skipped nap one day.

But overall, our children are much more pleasant to be around when they get enough sleep.  Both you and your hosts will appreciate kids that have had enough rest.

3.  Hold on to those important holiday traditions.

Even in someone else’s home, your children might really relish in one particular thing you do on Christmas Day, and would be sad to toss that aside because you’re somewhere else for the holidays.  Do what you can to still incorporate that tradition.

If you give new pajamas on Christmas Eve, you can still do that in your host’s home.  Perhaps you enjoy a nighttime drive to look at the lights, just before bedtime.  See if your hosts are up for joining you in that outing.

christmas family breakfast
Photo by Woodley Wonderworks

4.  Respect your hosts’ holiday.

Sure, you need to hold on to a few things that make your family’s holiday unique, but remember that you’re still a guest.  You can’t reasonably expect your parents to cater to every little thing you do in your own nuclear family.  If you’re staying with another family with children, they may feel the exact issues you’re facing — how to still do their family thing while respecting others in the home.

Don’t bulldoze your way through someone else’s home. Honor their way of doing things — who knows, maybe you’ll discover a fun new tradition you can incorporate next year.

5.  Stay reasonably minimalist.

Don’t leave your wrapping paper strewn everywhere.  Don’t let your children’s new toys hold hostage your host’s peaceful afternoon.  Bring a laundry bag so that your dirty clothes aren’t everywhere.

In short, don’t make a mess, and respect the space you’re in. It’s a challenge with children, of course, but this is a great way for your kids to learn to respect other people’s space.

Are you going out of town this holiday season?  What are some tips you can add to being a gracious guest?

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  1. steadymom

    We’re staying put right here this Christmas, and I’m so glad.

    But when we are guests in someone’s home, I also like to make sure that both our family and our hosts have some privacy. So we might try to head out for a couple of hours each day on our own.

    Great tips!

    .-= steadymom´s last blog ..How to Get Through a Stressful Season =-.

  2. AliceKay

    Kudo to the interesting post and i have also bookmarked your RSS feeds for more updates.

  3. Angela

    Can someone send this to my parents so that they don’t take over the first major holiday that we have hosted at our house? I don’t want it to come from me. 🙂
    .-= Angela´s last blog ..Current Christmas Week Schedule and Menu =-.

  4. Samantha @ Mama Notes

    We’re going home to Oreogon and while I’m excited to see family, I’m really NOT excited to travel. We will be staying as a guest, so these are great tips and things to remember. Have a blessed and happy Christmas!
    .-= Samantha @ Mama Notes´s last blog ..Door # 3 =-.

  5. Melitsa

    Being prepared.
    Flexibility is the key for us. You’re only there for a short time.
    The kids often find this the hardest with a change in schedule and routine. Plus the play activities can sometimes goes out the window. I try and include something that we do as a family together. A walk will lift everyone’s spirits 🙂
    Merry Christmas
    .-= Melitsa´s last blog ..Raising Playful Tots Podcast #5 Christmas Play Activities =-.

  6. Melanie at Parenting Ink

    Thank you for the tips. We’re about to embark on an overseas trip to stay with my husband’s family for 2 1/2 weeks (let me put my hands out to catch your eyeballs as they fall out of your sockets).
    It’s nice to remember that I need to worry more about stepping on my host’s toes. Thanks for the gentle reminders.
    One thing I like to do when I’m a host is to offer to help–emptying a dishwasher, making a meal, buying a round of groceries. Sometimes little gestures such as cleaning up the kitchen one night can be very appreciated.
    .-= Melanie at Parenting Ink´s last blog ..The Break Up =-.

    • Melanie at Parenting Ink

      Whoops–I should have written “One thing I like to do when I’m NOT the host…”
      .-= Melanie at Parenting Ink´s last blog ..The Break Up =-.

  7. Meeks

    This post reminded me of something random….when we visited our family we brought along some of those pop up baskets to hold our washing in. With 2 adults and 4 kids, this was a sanity saver!
    .-= Meeks´s last blog ..My 5 links for the week =-.

  8. Emma @

    I couldn’t agree more with every single one of your tips. In fact, I have a list of relatives who I want to read these too 🙂 in case they come over and stay at my house.
    .-= Emma @´s last blog ..Potty training – day 6. =-.

  9. Josien

    Thank you so much for these useful tips! We live abraod and have a lot of guests coming over, all year long. I absolutely agree with Melanie, I love it when they offer to help. But, also, leave your room and bathroom as you found it when starting the visit. So with fresh sheets, a clean bathroom etc. You can ask your host where to find cleaning material and new sheets. Your host will absolutely be delighted!
    And of course, bring a nice gift for your host!

  10. Amanda

    Hmm, maybe you could add, “Be a good guest — don’t call a mere four days in advance to say, “The four of us will be there on Sunday and staying the whole week!” when there’s been no prior discussion, or even mention, of the idea. You may be loved, but everyone likes a little warning when company’s coming.
    .-= Amanda´s last blog ..Goodbye, old friend, faithful servant. =-.

  11. Pot Luck Mama

    Sage advise. I especially like that you encourage guests to be flexible.

    My mom has a great saying…”Fish and company start to smell after three days”…this made me think of that:)
    .-= Pot Luck Mama´s last blog ..Furlough =-.

  12. Catherine@ Frugal Homemaker Plus

    Even if you don’t have children, a nap/quiet time is great! I’m an introverted person, and it helps me recharge when my guests go take a nap/read a book/go sightseeing alone once a day or so. When I’m a guest, I retreat to my room to read/nap for an hour or so each day. That one hour saves my sanity and makes me a better host/guest!
    .-= Catherine@ Frugal Homemaker Plus´s last blog ..Pause =-.

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