If you regularly welcome people into your home, you probably have a great setup in your guest room already. You make sure there are extra blankets, a charging station by the bedside and plenty of reading material just in case guests want some quiet time alone to themselves. No matter how much you plan, though, holidays can come with specific challenges. Many people feel more awkward about visiting at the holidays, particularly if they are meeting your family for the first time. Your son's boyfriend may be nervous that he won't be accepted, especially if his own family disapproves of the match. Your daughter's college roommate may feel hesitant to join in festivities that are typically just for family. It may take a little extra effort to ensure that holiday guests feel at home.
Many guests who visit during the holidays want to make sure they don't do anything to upset the family dynamic. They want to fit in without making a fuss. You can start putting them at ease as soon as they arrive. Show them around the house, starting with the place they'll be sleeping and the bathroom you've prepared for their stay. Show them where you keep the things they may need:
- Towels and washcloths
- First-aid kit
- Extra toilet paper
Just in case they are early risers who need their coffee fix first thing in the morning or would like a nighttime cup of tea before bed, point out where you keep the warm beverage supplies and invite them to help themselves any time. The more thorough and gracious you can be in your introduction, the less they may feel they have to ask permission every time they need to use something.
It may seem silly at first to outline your family's schedule with newcomers. Don't assume the family members who bring guests have debriefed them on your habits, though. You don't have to print out a detailed list of activities, of course, but a general idea of when they can expect meals and your overall plan for each day helps them understand your expectations. For example, if breakfast is typically the meal that everyone pitches in for or takes turns making, guests who love to cook may feel more welcome if they are included in the rotation or at least get to help out one morning. Sharing your schedule with them is a simple way to make sure they know they're invited to everything you do.
Think about what you do for your family members who will be arriving for the holidays. Is there a special dessert that your kids enjoy and expect every year? Do you go out of your way to exchange gifts that are meaningful for each person? Do you have a ritual that you take part in every year that requires a little preparation? Whatever you would normally take into consideration for your family members when making plans, remember to include guests, too. Find out what their favorite holiday treat is and make sure you have some on hand. Ask about their hobbies or interests so that you can get them gifts they will really enjoy. The extra planning may take a little detective work on your part, but it can mean the difference between guests feeling like they're on the outside looking in and truly feeling like part of the family.
Visiting your family for the first time during the holidays may be nerve-wracking for some guests. They want to be a part of the celebration, but they don't want to step on any toes or ruin any beloved traditions. Taking extra care to make sure they know what to expect and what is expected of them can help you set their minds at ease.