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Be the hostess with the mostest
The festive season is all about family gatherings and spending quality time with good friends. However, dealing with house guests is often the biggest cause of stress during the holidays.

Here is a guide to different types of house guests, and tips on how to deal with them effectively, drama-free and with friendship intact.

The guest who takes “Make yourself at home” a little too literally

It’s one thing to make yourself at home. It’s quite another to help yourself to every piece of food in the fridge, article of clothing and toiletry items.

Most people don’t mind if a guest pokes in the fridge for a snack, but when she takes up sole residency on the couch in the matching tracksuit that she swiped without permission from your cupboard, with the last of your Romany creams and that bottle of rosé you were saving for a special occasion, all the while hogging the remote control and preventing you from enjoying the new Comedy Central channel, things can get a bit tense.

Tip: Provide other options

The best way to manage this guest is with the power of distraction. She likes pretty and/or tasty things that aren’t hers, so suggest a trip to the mall.

The guest, who came, saw and left their stuff everywhere

She leaves a trail of disorderly destruction in her wake. She hasn’t so much as put a cereal bowl in the sink, and didn’t even offer to wipe up the spot on the floor where she spilled Coke.

Tip: A little to the left of sarcasm

It’s very hard to accuse a friend of being messy. But it’s easy to help your guest notice the standards by which you keep your house. When she spills the Coke, politely ask, “Do you know where to find the paper towels?” The hint is subtle, but likely won’t be missed.

The guest who turns your time into that of a tour guide

This sort of houseguest is especially prevalent if you live in a destination city. You would think they would arrive with a mile-long list of the sights they want to see and the things they want to do. But no such luck.

Tip: Give them the “Locals-Only” Tour

You know perfectly well what constitutes a good time in your city. So take your guests to the places you want to go. Show them where you have drinks after work; take them to your favourite restaurant, or boutique. Chances are they’ll appreciate the local’s perspective as much as they do any famous landmark.

The guest who never has a nice thing to say

You agree you are not in the running to be the next Martha Stewart, but you have watched enough Oprah shows with that gorgeous Nate Berkus to know how to spruce your place up in anticipation of impending guests. But does she notice? No! She’s too busy complaining about the quality of the mattress in the guest room, wondering out loud, “What made you choose that couch?” and “Why do you have only skim milk?” And on and on she goes.

Tip: A gentle reminder that this accommodation is free

The first thing is to allow for the slight possibility that perhaps you might have overlooked some details that would interfere with her comfort, however unlikely. Once it’s been established that you are indeed a gracious hostess, counter each complaint with a comment about an expensive bed-and-breakfast. When she says, “The floral print on your sheets are so 1997!” You say, “I know. By the way, have you stayed at (insert name of expensive B&B)? No wonder a room is R800 a night!” The reminder that her accommodations at your, albeit humble abode, is free might stop the complaints for the time being.

With these combative tips for all house guests this festive season, a stress-free marvellous time is sure to be had

In the end, more often than not, most of us are delighted to house our family and friends over the festive season and if everyone, for the duration of the holidays, successfully puts their issues aside for the peace of the group, everyone ends up having a great time.

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