Being a good guest

For the Fourth of July this year my family is going to a friend’s beach cottage for the night. I am quickly getting everything together, and as the pile of things we are bringing gets bigger and bigger, I am reminded again that when you have kids, even if you pack for 24 hours you have enough to go away for 2 weeks. I am also wondering how all of our stuff is going to fit in a small cottage which will house 4 adults and six kids for 24 hours. I have given my kids the lecture on being a good guest – use your manners, clean up after yourself, do as you are asked – the first time, not the fifth. Her are some ideas on how you can be a good guest when you are visiting with your family, (beyond the obvious pick up after yourselves, offer to help with dinner, dishes, etc.):

Ask what you can bring for the meals that you can make at home. Offer to prepare a side dish, appetizer, dessert, take care of lunch one day, or all of the above. It is great if you remember to bring the serving dish, utensils, and anything else you need to serve (and remember to wash and bring it home with you when you depart). Here are a few side dish salads and desserts from Rachael that travel well.

Pasta Salad with Ricotta Insalata and Broccolini

Asparagus Pasta Salad

Grilled Vegetables (these are great room temperature)

Marshmallow Nut Brownies

Heavenly Hazelnut Pound Cake

Bring something for breakfast the next day. Muffins, coffee cake, even fresh bagels with cream cheese are all  great options. You can stop at your local bakery or grocery store on your way if you don’t feel like baking, but if you do, try Rachael’s savory Rosemary and Ham Scones or easy but impressive Almond-Orange Apricot Crescent Rolls.

Take pictures.When you are hosting, you are usually too busy to document the event, but as the guest, you have more time to snap away. Email the photos to your host when you get back home, or even splurge and make an online photo book at one of the sites like Shutterfly or Snapfish.

If you are visiting a family with kids, bring some form of entertainment from your house to keep the kids occupied with the hope that the adults can have a few minutes of conversation without the kids. A DVD (my kids are currently loving “The Parent Trap” and “The Sound of Music”), activity (bubbles, Slip and Slide, wiffle ball) or game (Life, Sorry! and Trouble are all popular at my house) are all good ideas and work for a range of ages. I have seen my 8 year old get excited about Play Dough just because I didn’t buy it and it was brought by a guest.

 Whether you are a host or a guest this holiday, Happy Fourth of July!!

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