“reign in blood”

Since: May 09

Wilmington, IL

#1 Feb 26, 2014
DEAR READERS: I'm stepping away from the "Ask Amy" column for a week. Please enjoy these hand-picked "best of" columns in my absence.

DEAR AMY: My husband and I recently moved to Florence, Italy, due to a short-term assignment for his job. We have had many visitors -- friends and family.

My question is, what is the proper etiquette for staying at someone's home as an invited guest? Are we, the homeowners, expected to serve, prepare and pay for all the "home-cooked" meals, clean up after guests and take them sightseeing in our vehicle without expecting something in return?

I would really like to know what is the "proper" thing to do.-- Candra (2003)

DEAR CANDRA: I gather you've been inundated with guests. That's what happens when you move to Florence. Those of us living in Chicago in the winter envy you.

I think the standard for invited guests shifts, depending on how close you are to them and how the invitation is issued. "Drop by any time you're in Italy" puts people in one category. A specific invitation to close friends or family means you should pull out the stops while they're visiting, if you can.

Great hosts are accommodating and fun and give their guests the benefit of being honest about their own hosting capabilities. You can provide your guests with brochures and information on important sites and suggestions about the best way to view them. You can let them know which nights (if any) you will be cooking dinner at home and suggest trattorias in the neighborhood that they might enjoy.

Guests have an obligation to be easy to please, tidy and appreciative. It's also nice if they take their hosts to dinner at a favorite restaurant during their stay.

Great hosts expect nothing in return, but generally receive so much: dinner invitations, heartfelt notes of thanks and years of happy memories and gratitude from their guests, followed by invitations to be guests at their friends' homes when their friends have fun overseas assignments.

If you're feeling overwhelmed by hosting, please pull back on your commitments; you should enjoy having your guests almost as much as they enjoy their visit.

DEAR AMY: My husband is suffering from debilitating back and hip pain. We are both 50.

We recently made our second move in the past year. My basement is now full of boxes.

I am a full-time mom and work 8-12 hours a day. Due to my husband's illness, the burden of emptying the boxes from our move falls squarely on me.

I did hire some teenagers to help, and they did a great job, but I can't afford to hire them again.

How crass would it be if I sent a note to my friends asking for their help? Perhaps I could buy soda and pizza.

I hate to sound like a tightwad, but I need some help. What would you do?-- Gerty (2004)

DEAR GERTY: I wouldn't write a note; I would pick up the phone. Wouldn't you happily help a friend in need? Wouldn't you be glad if a friend gave you the opportunity to be useful?

Many hands make light work. Host yourself a work-bee.

DEAR AMY: My daughter-in-law is having our first grandchild.

At a shower given by a family friend I learned that her mother has also planned a shower. I mentioned that it wasn't proper, but a guest said that she was having a shower for her daughter too.

Am I old-fashioned? They think I just don't want to bother to host a shower. If the only advice these people take is from you, at least it didn't come only from me.-- Bee (2004)

DEAR BEE: Let's ask Amy Vanderbilt. She says that showers are "most often hosted by friends, not family." (That's because it is considered "trolling for gifts" for family members to host showers.)

I do feel strongly, however, that etiquette is a blueprint for behavior, not a club to bonk people over the head with. It really isn't "proper" to volunteer to others what is or isn't proper.

“reign in blood”

Since: May 09

United States

#2 Feb 26, 2014
1- Well, they should at least take you out to dinner on occasion. But they're coming to visit you AND see the sights. They'd rather sight see with you instead of following some brochure

2- Ask your friends to help, jeebus. Were people a lot stupider ten years ago?

3- Why are all these people showering for your daughter in law? Can't she shower for herself? What good is showering for someone gonna do anyway? Just have her take a bath

“I Am Mine”

Since: Dec 08

Location hidden

#3 Feb 26, 2014
Lw2: If a friend adked you for the same favor, would you be put off by the request? No? Then why are you walking on egg shells at the thought of asking them?

Lw3: "I do feel strongly, however, that etiquette is a blueprint for behavior, not a club to bonk people over the head with. "

Smartest thing she's ever said

Since: Dec 09

Smalltown, Colorado

#4 Feb 26, 2014
LW2 - The way to deal with a huge job is to break it down into small jobs. Deal with one box per day. You have already been there part of a year. In a couple of months, the boxes will be gone.

“A Programmer is not in IT!”

Since: Feb 09

Neda, stay with me! Charlie

#5 Feb 26, 2014
1 When I am a guest, I always try to be neat. dinner meals are a communal task, so everyone pitches in, breakfast and lunch you are on your own though.

You should be the host you would expect your friends to be if you were visiting them.

2 If you were not a godless heathen, you could ask your minister to organize some help.

3 girl stuff.

Since: Jun 09

Saint Petersburg, FL

#6 Feb 26, 2014
I agree with Amy and RACE on LW1. We stayed with my friend's friend in San Fran 2 years ago. We treated the friend and her daughter to Alcatraz and dinner, and then dinner on another night. We helped clean up after dinners and breakfasts at the house, made the beds, etc. The host was honest when she couldn't hang with us becase she had something going on or money was too tight, but they hung out with us a lot, too.

We stayed with her friend in Sedone once, too, and did the same thing. Bought bagels and stuff for breakfast, treated for a picnic lunch on an outing we did, took her to dinner and took her and her child horsback riding.

And SHE bought us gifts!

Toj

“Where is Everyone?”

Since: Jul 12

Location hidden

#7 Feb 26, 2014
L1: I buy the week's groceries when I visit a friend for a few days in a warm climate. It works out well. We both either cook or, if it turns out we don't feel like it, I'll treat her to a restaurant/fast food meal (depending what we want to eat). I can't imagine staying at someone's house unless they are a close friend or a close family member.

L2: Pick up the phone to call your friends if you haven't moved too far away from them. The one box at a time theory is a good one.

L3: Good advice. I don't think people need to be going around correcting everyone.

“The two baby belly, please!”

Since: Sep 09

Evanston IL

#8 Feb 26, 2014
LW1: Blah blah blah Italy blah blah.

LW2: Just ask for help. Friends know the problems you have and won't be resentful.

LW3: People like to celebrate babies, get over it.

“The two baby belly, please!”

Since: Sep 09

Evanston IL

#9 Feb 26, 2014
Shari23 wrote:
LW2 - The way to deal with a huge job is to break it down into small jobs. Deal with one box per day. You have already been there part of a year. In a couple of months, the boxes will be gone.
This sounds so easy but it never quite turns out that way. We've been in our "new" apartment over 2 years and I still have a couple of boxes in the basement because where the stuff in them is supposed to go already has something in that spot, so I'd have to clean/organize that spot so the box-stuff could come up. And then you know that the minute you start trying to organize stuff from the spot-where-the-box-stuff-shoul d-be-going, you discover that *that* stuff does not really have a home either. I liken it to that old kids game where you have 9 holes and 8 tiles and you're supposed to line the tiles up in numerical order by sliding them around using just the one empty hole.

Since: Aug 08

Location hidden

#10 Feb 26, 2014
LW1: The proper thing to do is to be upfront and tell folks what to expect before they solidify plans. If you donít want to give them the tour operator and bed/breakfast experience tell them this isnít going to happen and that while they are welcome to stay at your place they will be largely fending for themselves and will need to clean up after themselves. Also, donít be afraid to say no to visitors, if you donítí want any.

LW2: Just ask. If they are friends, theyíll understand.

LW3: a friend hosts it, it is not trolling for gifts, but if a family member hosts it, it is trolling for gift. Who the eff came up with these rules Ö pretty sure it wasnít a man? I think that is a ridiculous distinction.

“A Programmer is not in IT!”

Since: Feb 09

Neda, stay with me! Charlie

#11 Feb 26, 2014
I get what your saying, and I love the analogy, but I dont think that is the problem for the LW
squishymama wrote:
<quoted text>
This sounds so easy but it never quite turns out that way. We've been in our "new" apartment over 2 years and I still have a couple of boxes in the basement because where the stuff in them is supposed to go already has something in that spot, so I'd have to clean/organize that spot so the box-stuff could come up. And then you know that the minute you start trying to organize stuff from the spot-where-the-box-stuff-shoul d-be-going, you discover that *that* stuff does not really have a home either. I liken it to that old kids game where you have 9 holes and 8 tiles and you're supposed to line the tiles up in numerical order by sliding them around using just the one empty hole.

“The two baby belly, please!”

Since: Sep 09

Evanston IL

#12 Feb 26, 2014
RACE wrote:
I get what your saying, and I love the analogy, but I dont think that is the problem for the LW
<quoted text>
It's possible they have more room to spread out the stuff in the boxes and get that organized, but I bet there's some of this going on too. When you don't have help and still have a household to run, stuff gets shoved where it's convenient, not necessarily where you would like it to stay permanently.

Toj

“Where is Everyone?”

Since: Jul 12

Location hidden

#13 Feb 26, 2014
squishymama wrote:
<quoted text>
It's possible they have more room to spread out the stuff in the boxes and get that organized, but I bet there's some of this going on too. When you don't have help and still have a household to run, stuff gets shoved where it's convenient, not necessarily where you would like it to stay permanently.
I agree. That's why closets were born. I swear.
Pippa

Hancock, NY

#14 Feb 27, 2014
1: I agree with others who say to let people know ahead of time (like when they first tell you they are going to drop in on you) just what you'll be able and not able to do for them while they're visiting.

2: Seems to me there was a letter in some column not so long ago about a woman who was upset because a "friend" had decided to have a painting party in which her friends would come and paint her home and she'd give them lunch. That lw was upset that the friend was taking advantage of their friends. I don't see the difference between that and this letter. It was someone in need of help and who was asking friends for that help. No big deal from what I can see. A person can decide whether or not to help out. This lw could simply ask a friend or two to join her. Something that would be an awful chore could actually be rather fun with a couple of friends. I wouldn't ask too many over at any one time. That kind of chore needs oversight with the lw telling people where things go and so forth. Too much of a crowd could cause problems.

3: I'm old school I guess. I was raised to not go gift trolling and that's what close relatives giving showers is - gift trolling. But it seems to be happening more often in recent years. I simply don't go unless I really want to. I also don't think that I still "owe" a gift if I don't go.

“I Am Mine”

Since: Dec 08

Location hidden

#15 Feb 27, 2014
Pippa wrote:
3: I'm old school I guess. I was raised to not go gift trolling and that's what close relatives giving showers is - gift trolling. But it seems to be happening more often in recent years. I simply don't go unless I really want to.
While there is no OBLIGATION to give a gift, the social EXPECTATION is that if you attend a shower you bring a gift. So why is it trolling if the sister throws the shower vs the friend? Its trolling both ways. No matter who throws it, gifts are expected.

“A Programmer is not in IT!”

Since: Feb 09

Neda, stay with me! Charlie

#16 Feb 27, 2014
Dude, It's girl stuff, why do you even care?

When the family throws the party its a formal declaration of a gift grab.
When the friend throws the party, it's a girly get-together, and gifts are appreciated, but not required for attendance.
Mister Tonka wrote:
<quoted text>While there is no OBLIGATION to give a gift, the social EXPECTATION is that if you attend a shower you bring a gift. So why is it trolling if the sister throws the shower vs the friend? Its trolling both ways. No matter who throws it, gifts are expected.

“I Am Mine”

Since: Dec 08

Location hidden

#17 Feb 27, 2014
RACE wrote:
Dude, It's girl stuff, why do you even care?
When the family throws the party its a formal declaration of a gift grab.
When the friend throws the party, it's a girly get-together, and gifts are appreciated, but not required for attendance.
<quoted text>
??? They're not required in either case, but expected in both.

“A Programmer is not in IT!”

Since: Feb 09

Neda, stay with me! Charlie

#18 Feb 27, 2014
If you say so, maybe you have more experience with bridal/baby showers than I do....
Mister Tonka wrote:
<quoted text>??? They're not required in either case, but expected in both.
boundary painter

San Antonio, TX

#19 Feb 27, 2014
Who wants to play "Glance at the future" on LW1?

When LW1 came ack to the states, LW1

(a) bragged so incessently about the time spent in Italy, that most
people ignore LW1
(b) called former visitors, trying to collect reimbursement, and got
laughed at and/or hung up on
(c) got "one-upped" by a traveler who's been to Tokyo and London
(d) got arrogantly corrected by someone else who'd been to Italy when
retelling of the experience of being in Florence
or
(e) other

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