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We're traveling for the holidays this year–how about you? While we have a handle on packing the car and suitcases for our family of five since we roadtrip quite often, I can't help but think of how challenging it is to receive us on the other end. Don't get me wrong–we are trying our best to be great guests–but there are five of us and we take up a lot of space (and my kids eat a TON). So when we head to my sister's house this year, we're bringing some unusual hostess gifts. Check them out below with some tips on Teaching Kids to Be Great Guests:
While kids are young, the best ways to teach them is to model great guest behavior and include them as much as possible. Now that my kids are older (9, 9 & 12), we spend some time ahead of the trip chatting about how we can make the visit go smoothly.
Discuss House Rules
If you're visiting a house with kids, ask ahead of time about naptimes/quiet, rules about TV & screens, etc. so you can talk to your own kids about any differences and how they'll be handled. We plan ahead for quiet times after little ones go to bed by packing books and quiet games. We expect our kids to follow our same rules as at home plus any others at the host's house.
Be Explicit about Privacy
Talk about privacy and appropriateness–such as knocking on closed doors, not looking into cupboards and drawers (we had this issue when they were younger), and being fully dressed. These are important rules at home, of course, but even moreso when at someone else's house.
Pack Light & Keep Tidy
My kids are learning that being a great guest means keeping your things tidy and and not adding to the extra clutter that comes with having more people in the house. They are expected to pack things up after dressing and be neat in the bathroom since so many of us are using it. Just as at home, they should be cleaning up after themselves, and they need to be extra vigilant when we're visiting houses with toddlers and infants that put things in their mouths.
Bring a Hostess Gift (with a twist!)
While a traditional hostess gift may be wine or flowers, those aren't very useful when visiting a family with young kids. Instead, we're bringing something that will be appreciated and used–some of my favorite Procter & Gamble cleaning products from Costco. Odd? Yes, but so very practical. Consider bringing these nontraditional hostess gifts on your next visit (especially if it's a long one):
- Charmin TP and Bounty Paper Towels
- Paper Plates (less dishes to wash)
- Cascade Action Pacs
- Laundry Detergent (to help with all the extra towels & sheets)
- Disinfecting Wipes (extra germs with a houseful of guests)
Help as Much as You Can
Now that my kids are big and self-sufficient, I expect them to help out when we visit others' homes. There are so many ways that they can pitch in:
- Help set the table, clear the dishes, and clean the kitchen afterwards.
- Model good table manners for the little ones.
- Play with little ones so Mom & Dad can visit with guests or get a break.
- Help pick up toys after playing with the little ones.
- Offer to strip beds and start laundry before leaving.
And as an adult, I think it's always great to offer to pick up a meal or take everyone out to give the host a break.
Before you Head Out of Town…
Head to Costco, where you'll find packs of Charmin and Bounty in the back of the store with the paper products. No one wants to run out when there's a house full of guests!
What are some ways you are teaching kids to be great guests?