Hostess: Not just a bad cake

19 May

Today my parents fly in from Portland, OR to the sunny Southeast under the pretense of fixing up our house to get it ready for the market. While they’re here, their grandchild will be spoiled rotten, everyone will eat too much, and we’ll celebrate a total of four spring birthdays plus mom and dad’s wedding anniversary. (That’s a lot of cake!)

Since we live roughly 2300 miles apart, visits from mom and dad are rare; virtually all of my family lives in Oregon so we’re usually the ones flying out to see them, not the other way around. To say that we’re unaccustomed to guests in our home is somewhat of an understatement.

With less than a week left to prepare, I was serene (translation: drunk). We were mostly ready, but the devil’s in the details, so I wrote a finely-tuned list of things we can do to ensure everyone’s comfort and survival. Use it as a handy guide when your in-laws come to stay:

1) Surrender the master bedroom suite.

I know you don’t want to give up the one truly peaceful room in the house, not to mention the only big bathroom, but there are multiple advantages to this plan. First, you’ll get brownie points for being so wonderfully generous and thoughtful. (“Of COURSE you’re our favorite child! Thanks for the hotel towels and private garden tub, my dear, I will surely remember this next time you need help painting/moving your house, or a large gift of cash!” At least, that’s how it sounds in my head.) Second, since they’ll sleep a lot better on a nice bed in a comfortable bedroom, they’ll wake up earlier than you, bright-eyed, bushy-tailed and ready to make breakfast for everyone so you don’t have to. Last but not least, cordoning off a whole chunk of the house for the ‘rents greatly reduces the chance of walking in on old-people business of all kinds. They’ll eventually go home get privacy, and you get to keep your precious eyesight. Everyone wins!

2) Contraband round-up.

Let’s say you have empty liquor bottles, an embarrassing POG collection, or 500 battery-powered toothbrushes-that-aren’t-actually-toothbrushes lying around your house. Not that I have any of these things, but it’s still a good idea to do a sweep for Sensitive Articles before you go sharing your living space with relatives who still harbor a molecule of respect for you. That, and you don’t want them flossing with your special underwear by accident. They might never know what they’ve done, but YOU will, and it’ll ruin everything. Everything, forever.

3) Change your schedule.

Your flesh and blood didn’t pay $1500 for plane tickets so they could suffer your nocturnal video game/porn habits. If you make them sit around bored all day while you sleep through the evil sunshine hours, they’re going to think you’re a shitbag. They’ll still say they love you, and they’ll even mean it, but it won’t change the fact that you wasted their time.

4) Accommodate pressing needs.

On an ordinary day you get along just fine with a tiny coffeepot that brews two cups at a time, but your dad alone can polish that off in the time it takes to cook a single pancake. If you can’t afford to drop $20 on a bigger appliance, check with a neighbor that doesn’t hate your guts and see if they have one to loan. Same goes with blankets and pillows. If you don’t have enough to go around, pick up a few cheap ones and let the kids sleep on them. Who would make their family pay extra baggage fees for bedding? A shitbag, that’s who!

5) Give ‘em what they want.

Chances are good they want to DO something rather than sit around staring at you while you drunkenly try to pick your nose. Plan a trip to the seashore, lake or park, if it’s not more than a few hours’ drive. Take them to your favorite local restaurant. Make snacky food for a Netflix party, play party games, walk through your neighborhood, give grampa a makeover. Take ‘em to whatever passes for Downtown to visit the bookstore and the pizzeria you’ve always wanted to try. If you’re naturally a boring person, they probably already know and are prepared for disappointment. In that case, booze fixes everything. Buy out a liquor store; everyone will be too schnockered to remember they were bored out of their minds.

I get along really well with my folks, and they love my family to bits. They don’t get their panties in a twist about every little thing (or if they do, they keep it to themselves). Maybe I don’t need to do everything on this list, but I will, because 1) I’m not a shitbag and 2) I want them to have a good time. With a little forethought and consideration, you, too, can feel superior to the host who thinks the spare couch, a can of spaghettios and basic cable qualify as hospitality.

And as soon as they’re gone, boil your sheets.

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3 Responses to “Hostess: Not just a bad cake”

  1. Fallah May 20, 2011 at 1:59 pm #

    My family is the same way. My folks have been out 3 times in the 7-ish years I’ve lived here and one time was for my wedding, so everyone had hotel rooms.

    We don’t have a master suite, and for various mitigating reasons we decided to clean up the spare bedroom instead of granting ours. I definitely recommend having at least an entire bedroom with a door that closes. Though my mom did once sleep on an air mattress in our condo, that is NOT ideal.

    Always make sure to have a clean set of towels for each guest: bath towel, hand towel, wash cloth. If you are super fancy you can put together a little basket of travel size soap and shampoo too and put it in the guest room.

    Also, ask in advance if they have certain favorite beverages or snacks. My mom always wants hot tea in the morning. My dad likes a glass of V8 and coffee.

    If they have a rental car, figure out parking and driving arrangements in advance if you can. Or try to spare them the need for renting a car (we both drive 2-door coupes, alas).

    Overall we had a lovely visit. I wish I had planned some evening activities somehow, or at least had a list of parent-friendly movies ready. We wound up watching a random assortment of things after it got dark.

    • Bika May 20, 2011 at 7:15 pm #

      Those are all good ideas! I have the luxury of netflix (yaaay) so we can watch anything we like; I already have a fancy handmade soap addiction so that was a nice touch for mom (“Your bathroom looks like a fancy soap STORE”).

      Forgot to mention dietary needs/requests: mom & dad are on strict Weight Watchers diets at the moment and dad is diabetic, so I made sure to pick up the staples they needed (like plain greek yogurt and fresh fruit/veggies).

      …we ended up having to go to the store anyway, of course. I think mom just really, really likes to go to stores.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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