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Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Be a great guest

In a blog giving students advice on how to obtain a post-secondary education for the lowest possible price, you may wonder how being a ‘great guest’ fit within the scope and goal of this blog.  Let me tell you.

Eating out is expensive.  So is traveling.  However, you may encounter friends or even parents of friends who will invite you to dine or even use their house during a trip, which is when you need to know how to be the best guest possible.  And why bother being a fantastic invitee? Because then you will be invited again!

Let’s say you are in Calgary studying to become a nurse.  Thanksgiving comes and you decide not to go home to Winnipeg to save money.  However, your friend Deb, who lives with her family and studies in Calgary, invites you over for Thanksgiving dinner.  You are excited that you won’t spend Thanksgiving dinner alone, and you will get a fantastic dinner for free.  But wait!  Should you bring anything to dinner? And how should be behave with Deb’s parents?

When going to someone’s parents for a meal (or a few days for a vacation), always bring something.  It does not have to be expensive (but forgo cheap wine – connoisseurs will not want to drink it) but it shows that you value the invitation; a small box of chocolate, a fancy cheese, or even a small homemade dessert will do.  As well, during the meal, abstain from retelling how your friend (in this case, Deb) has made a fool of herself, or anything else that is unflattering (Deb will make sure you are not invited again and her parents may not appreciate the embarrassment of their child in front of other guests – and honestly, some parents don’t want to know everything their child does!).  As well, offer to help – yes, you are a guest, but chances are you are a guest of Deb’s parents because they are generous and didn’t want anyone to spend Thanksgiving dinner alone.  So help your hosts right after dinner – clearing the table and doing the dishes.  You may be shooed away, but insist at least once.  And praise their child, never criticize. 

The results? Deb’s parents will love you and will want to invite you again.  Financially, this mean more free meals; but also, a less lonely time away from home which means that you are less likely to need to travel home because you are homesick (which may be expensive) and less frustration at cooking mediocre meals which means you will be less likely to eat out; again, cheaper.  And you may develop a real friendship with people your parents’ age, which is very valuable because this cohort may well be your employer very soon so learning the way they think is very valuable.

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