Help me be a good Christmas Guest (with large family)(21 Posts)
I have ASD and find it difficult to know how to deal with social situations, but badly want to get it right.
We (large family - 5 kids!) are going to stay with affluent relatives for Christmas. We live a long way away from them and only see them once or twice a year. They are a lovely family, my well-to -do in-laws. I mention they are well off because I don't know if it influences what we should do, I don't want to offend!
Anyway, we originally planned to only see them for the day, possible stay 1 night. But they kindly went and bought (without asking us) tickets to events on either side of Christmas, which pretty much forces us to spend 4 days there as opposed to 1 ( or 1 day & 1 over night).
As there are so many of us, it will cost a lot to feed us, and it will be aggravation having so many under one roof.
At mutual agreement, we only do presents for the dc, and has been like this for years. But I would plan to take a thank you gift (suggestions!?), offer to help in any way they want, I'm sure dh will cook the Christmas dinner, we will pay for the tickets for the events, and offer to come with, and pay for the shopping. Does that sound OK? Is there more we should do? I feel a bit anxious tbh at being there so long, I know some of the dc don't want to be there at all, hense planning to only be there for the day itself, so I want to ensure it's as smooth and harmonious as possible. I don't want to leave and be oblivious to have made social faux-pas which will be embedded in in-laws' memories for years to come!
What ages are the children? Do they have good visitor manners already? (Ie do they know not to jump on furniture, wind up pets, not help themselves to stuff and draw on walls etc?)
Can you take them out for chunks of the time there e.g. shopping at sales, park - whatever they like?
Tidying up as you go and encouraging big floor toys such as train track, jigsaw and lego in bedrooms?
Offer to pay for a take away at some point, or a meal out maybe?
Bring any snack food drink etc you may need to ensure dc have what they need to top up with if portions are smaller there or meals served later than they're used to.
I do agree it sounds a long time with potential for stress. It could go really well though and you sound lovely.
help in the kitchen, clean up after yourselves. make tea. do the washing up.
Dc are all 'house-trained'. They span 8 - 18 years, mine being the eldest. They are pretty good, they youngest all get on, but the 2 eldest get irritated by the youngest, and in addition, being teenagers, want to be alone a lot, so that will be tricky. The 2 eldest will share a room, so they will be able to slope off there to get some peace & quiet.
Thanks for tip on offering to pay for take away.
My adult children all have ADHD and I suspect I do too, and I’ve learn to manage it. I have always avoided being a guest or host. But this year as a thank you I was asked to go to France with my friend to stay with her parents for 5 days. I asked another friend how to be a good guest. Give a gift to to host as a thank you. Offer to help if they say no don’t push it but offer again the next day. When you leave ask if they want you to strip the bed. Keep you stuff ( bag shoes coat ) tidy. I had a really lovely time met all their friends and was very spoilt. Remember they know they are inviting a large family.
That's harder without knowing them. What's your budget?
Forgot to mention, bringing with us multiple cases of ADHD and allergies! Oh goodness, I'm getting cold sweats thinking about it.
re budget, I guess 50 pounds? Does that sound ok? We're flying, hand luggage only, no no liquid, unless buy at airport, so small, or ordered online. Hard gift or consumable? I'm rubbish at buying gifts as I can't easily relate to what they might possibly like. They are very stylish and tasteful and must have everything anyone would ever need, and more!
I think flowers/chocolates/a bottle of something are all appropriate host gifts. I agree with helping tidy up as much as possible.
A diptyque candle or room scent infuser?
Some Moulton Brown hand wash and a bottle of something you know they like from airport?
Are they the sort of people who would appreciate children making them a calendar or collage or something like that? I'd love that.
Depending on where you live, a speciality food or drink from your area could go down well
Do all the adults drink wine? I would get a case or half case of wine delivered: maybe a mix of red / sparkling. Partly as a gift, partly as your contribution to the festive refreshments.
Allergies: talk to them. If you need non dairy milk etc again you could get it delivered in an online shop, but discuss this with them in advance and let them know.
Do your ILs understand the allergy issues?
As for gift: after Christmas send them a framed pic of their happy family enjoying Christmas at their house?
If they're your (extended) family, then hopefully they know you - and all the allergies and intricacies etc you bring. So, they're inviting you - for longer than originally planned - knowing all that. So try not to worry too much.
If you're not sure they appreciate all the allergies, mention and offer to bring (or order / buy on arrival) specifics.
If there's anything you're worried about re those with ADHD, maybe wanting quiet time, again mention that in advance if that would help. If they're good hosts, they'd hate for any of you to be uncomfortable.
If they know your travel plans, they'll not expect a grand hostess gift. Maybe biscuits or sweets local to you. You can always do as you suggest and offer to pay for various things whilst you're there. And / or follow-up with a thank-you afterwards.
Hope you have a good time!
I think everything you have said is perfect. If in doubt I would enclose a note in their Christmas card, saying how much you are looking forward to staying with them and asking if they would like you to bring anything.
Afterwards a letter thanking them for their hospitality is essential. I think you must have a very well brought up family. Otherwise they would be thinking ‘how quickly can we be rid of them’. Not let’s keep them here for 4days.
Definitely leave the older ones to have their peace, they will be more willing to do things with you if they know you don't inforce a permanent group-do.
Research if there is anything on to do, ideally outside wher you or your DH can take the younger ones to let of steam.
For a host gift when flying. Either you, as a pp said, order a crate of wine and get it delivered or pay for a food shop. We always get flowers at my mums a day before we leave so we don't have to worry buying them on route.
Take lots of favourite snacks with you for the younger kids. We stayed with friends who have very relaxed meal times while DD is a "I am hungry now, I need food now" and is used to fixed times (also ADHD) so I always take a decent amount of snacks with me to avoid meltdowns.
How about looking for a local restaurant (have a look on Trip Advisor for ideas) & see if you can buy a voucher for them to go for a meal after Christmas as a thank you gift. Nice treat for them to enjoy after Christmas & wont take up any space in your luggage. They (& you) sound lovely & they obviously want you to stay longer otherwise they wouldn't be booking things to make you stay longer. As long as you don't sit on your bum expecting to be waited on hand & foot (like 2 of my guests do every year ) & you make sure the kids tidy up any mess, I'm sure you'll be fine. Definitely take snacks etc that they might not have but the kids might want. If there's time (& the older 2 get on), maybe they could go out one night for a few hours (cinema, pub if both old enough, bowling) so they get time away from the younger kids. You could maybe offer to pay for their cinema tickets (or money towards something).
Just to add, send a thank you card when you get home saying how much you enjoyed seeing them and xx event
Some people like to send a supermarket gift card a couple of weeks before Christmas, so the host can spend it on Christmas stuff rather than having already bought the stuff the guests then turn up with. You could do that - add it in with the Chritstmas card and say how much you are looking forward to it and would like to contribute as you're there for several days. Still take wine and chocs.
Yes to tidying up. Also offer to wash up and do t take 'no' for an answer - just step in and get going on it.
Other helpful things can be saying you'll bring a meal - something like a lasagna - just means one day where host won't have to cook.
Takeaway or taking everyone out for a meal is a good idea too.
Yes to sometimes just getting out of the house to give the hosts a bit of space - going for a walk for a couple of hours type thing.
How about saying you'll bring your own towels....or just taking your own, so when leaving you can say you haven't used theirs - reduces the washing required afterwards and is a nice surprise. Strip the beds too.
You don't need to do all of these by the way. However hosting a family for 4 days is a big effort and at Christmas a really significant expense, so simply arriving with a bottle of wine really isnt good enough and sitting on the sofa for 4 days without lots of chipping in with tasks isn't either.
Sorry - see you are flying. Some of my ideas won't help you....but might help others travelling by car for Christmas visits.
I would def send a supermarket voucher as it also saves you having to carry lots of stuff. Check which supermarkets are nearby online. Even if they don't use it until after Christmas, it will save them that amount if money.
Good ideas about taking snacks or any particular needs for your kids. If they need very precise mealtimes or anything else, then without being demanding, it's worth saying in advance - info about guests needs is better received in advance than during the visit.
Oh and if you have an Ensuite bathroom when you are there, make sure you always use it and encourage your kids to use it too to avoid overload on any family bathrooms. Might be an issue or not. And don't stay up really really late, keeping hosts up - one early night just gives them a bit of space.
Thank you all so much for these great tips.
My family know all about all the various allergies and will definitely go above and beyond, they are so incredibly thoughtful! ( I especially appreciate their effort after reading some of the threads on here! )
Thank you also to those saying that the clearly want us there /well brought-up kids etc, as they have taken steps to keep us there longer. I honestly would never have thought of that in a million years, and it's a really lovely (and reassuring) thought. Thank you
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