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Being a Guest on Fourth of July

Being a Guest on Fourth of July

I was fortunate to spend my Fourth of July weekend as the guest of a couple who live in a lovely home on Chesapeake Bay. I arrived on Saturday afternoon, about two hours before my hosts’ annual Fourth of July celebration began. I had been asked to arrive early, get settled, and help with a few chores.

Our hosts provide crabs and corn while everyone else brings a side and their beverage of choice. This leads me to a hosting issue which I hear frequently. When hosting such an event is it better to assign sides or let the chips (and dips) fall where they may? If it’s a large event such as this, I like the free-form event. Folks get to make their specialties and if someone doesn’t show up, there isn’t a hole at the table that the hostess may feel obligated to fill at the last minute. But I know it bothers some folks to have too much of one thing and not enough of another. In this case we had a lot of pasta salad and one guest was heard to remark, “With a little planning this wouldn’t have happened.” I guess my thought is, who cares? Thoughts?

Several couples spent the night and I was in charge of breakfast Sunday morning. As usual we had an assortment of diets including vegetarian, pescitarian, and pregnant. With the help of another guest I made a huge load of bacon, pancakes, homemade blackberry syrup, fruit salad, and watermelon salad. For future reference, that combination seemed to work really well. Two of the couples peeled off to go home and the remaining six people spent a relaxing day puddling around in the water and eating leftovers.

On Monday we gave our hosts a break and went to Calvert Cliffs along with the other remaining guest couple. I almost hate to promote it, but this is an amazing 4 mile hike along a shaded path through forest and bordering several different ecosystems. You end up at a small swimming beach on the Bay with an amazing view of the cliffs. It’s also dog friendly, and our Boston Terrier swam for the first time. We headed about seven miles down Route 2 to Soloman’s Island for lunch. Again, found a dog friendly restaurant with shade and really good sandwiches. That night we took our hosts out to dinner. Really nice day.

On Tuesday, one couple went to check out Chesapeake Beach, two of us went to a small-town parade, and two of “us” stayed on the couch all day watching Robocop movies. I love a parade, there’s something about gathering with other people on Main Street America and complaining about their children that I enjoy. That night the other couple treated us all to pizza.

We could see fireworks from different localities from our hosts’ backyard every night. I also love fireworks.

This trip reinforced several of my best practices.
1) When you have a group staying at your house for several days, it’s helpful if people can entertain themselves, at least during the day.
2) It’s OK for people to do different things. Guests shouldn’t be pressured to participate in activities that don’t interest them. When someone on vacation is forced to do something they don’t want….it shows and takes away from the enjoyment of others.
3) Don’t complain or make negative comments about anything. If there is a serious safety or comfort problem, don’t whine about it, suggest a solution. “I know we need some room in the fridge. Mind if I toss this mayonnaise-based salad that was out on the sun for 10 hours?” “I know it’s just me, but do you mind if I turn the AC down just a couple of degrees?” You know stuff like that.
4) If you bring a pet, take responsibility for it! The first night, my bad cat woke everyone up at 5:00 am yowling in the hallway. Once again, my apologies.

I hope everyone had a great holiday weekend.

Thank you for visiting.

Relax now! How to give your host some downtime.

Relax now! How to give your host some downtime.

This past weekend we were invited to the vacation home of friends in the Blue Ridge Mountains. On Saturday we went for a hike and while scrambling down a fairly steep and rocky path, a voice said, “Now close your eyes.” What!? Then our hostess said, “Damn, that’s my meditation app!” I can see the headlines now, Woman Falls to Her Death While Being Coerced to Meditate on Steep Mountain Trail; Lawsuit Being Considered. When the app continued to nag at her our hostess said, “Boy, she really wants me to meditate.” Our hostess explained that she gets so busy she has to be reminded to relax.

This lovely woman (cheekbones to die for) and her husband have extremely demanding jobs and all the social obligations that come with such jobs. They purchased this weekend home for the express purpose of getting away together and chilling out. This visit to their beautiful weekend home gave me the perfect opportunity to invoke one of my Best Practices for House Guests, Give Your Host Downtime and Privacy. “But Kiki,” you might say, “if they invited us don’t they want to spend time with us?” Yes, they do, but not every minute. No one is that interesting. I have had guests that attach themselves to my hip and quite literally stood at my counter and stared at me while I was trying to prepare a meal. No, go away.

There’s a fine line between giving your hosts downtime and ignoring them. Here are some ideas:

  • In the morning, unless you’re on a schedule, linger in your room a little longer than you might normally at home.
  • Take a walk.
  • Bring lots of reading materials. If you’re tucked in to a novel, it gives your host the option to start a conversation…or not.
  • If you knit or crochet, bring it with you. For your host, your project is both an opportunity for down time or a conversation starter.
  • You can also fall back on one of my family favorites, take a nap. Naps are the new black.
  • Offer (do not insist) to do the dishes and suggest your host relax with a cup of coffee.
  • Television is an option but it is the host’s prerogative, not the guest’s. Televised sporting events create chances for folks to wander off for a spell and do their own thing.
  • Be careful about spending too much time on your phone as it can give the impression that you prefer the company of people who are NOT there.


I have one frequent house guest who does daily yoga and invites her hosts to participate…or not. I would refrain from relaxation apps because you might fall down a mountain and that would NOT be relaxing for your host.

If you have any other suggestions, I’d love to hear them. The Comments Section is below.

Thank you for visiting.


Photo courtesy of



Best practices for houseguesters.

Best practices for houseguesters.

Everyone has their own sensibilities, and no one can read minds. These two elements of human nature can set you up for uncomfortable situations when it comes to houseguests. Here are some best practices that apply to just about anyone…I think. I sincerely welcome your remarks and additions. Leave a comment below or send me an email at

For the Host

  • Your ultimate responsibility is to the safety and wellbeing of the family and household you have created. This doesn’t mean you can’t be gracious.
  • Be mindful of your guest’s resources.
  • Give your guest downtime and respect their privacy.
  • Be interested and be interesting.
  • Be appreciative that your houseguest values your company enough to stay in your home.
  • If you are not enjoying the visit, fake it!


For the Houseguest

  • Show up.
  • Respect your host’s schedule and resources.
  • If you are staying more than two nights, provide a meal.
  • Give your host downtime and privacy.
  • Offer, but do not insist, on helping with household chores such as meal prep and clean up.
  • Don’t offer unsolicited decorating or cooking advice.
  • Be interested and be interesting.
  • Be openly appreciative.
  • No whining unless it comes in a bottle.
  • If you’re not enjoying the visit, fake it!


In my next posts, I’ll go into more detail about these best practices and will have other topics as well including; host/hostess gifts, houseguesting with children, houseguesting with pets, meals/food, what to have on hand, and electronic etiquette. I’ve decided to turn houseguesting into a verb.

Thanks for visiting,

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