Playing the gracious host to guests who overstay their welcome can quickly kill any grace you may possess.
You know: those guests who eat all your food, don't clean up after themselves and sit around waiting for you to entertain them.
But this doesn't have to be the case. Try these three tips to avoid tricky situations:
1. Be clear about dates before the time
How long will your guests be staying?
This may not be the most comfortable conversation to have, but it needs to be had with your loved ones before they arrive. Being clear about timelines will immediately let your guests know there is an expected arrival and departure date, and it will help you remind them with little guilt should the latter pass and they're showing no sign of leaving.
Knowing how long you'll have people in your house helps you plan better around budget, food and activities.
2. Welcome contributions
Visitors should not leave you broke.
Unless you want to and can afford it, people can't stay for free for an entire seven days. So if they want to and can contribute, let them. If you need them to contribute, ask them kindly. Having even one extra person in your home for a while adds to the electricity, water, food and petrol bill — and it might be worse with the VAT increase on April 1.
Contributions do not need to be monetary. They can be in the form of helping to cook and clean up, for example.
3. Set boundaries
Don't drop hints in the hope that your guests will pick up on them. This is your home and, while you want your guests to have as pleasant a stay as possible, they are living in your space and must respect your boundaries, the same boundaries you hopefully respect when staying in their home.
If it's a no-smoking zone, gently communicate that they need to smoke outside and take care of their cigarette stubs. If the area you live in doesn't allow loud music after midnight, be clear about that so you don't have trouble. If you can't accommodate pets, let them know to make another plan for their animals before coming to your home.
Some things don't need trickery or subtle suggestions, but honest conversations. And these conversations needn't come across as rude or arrogant, even if they are uncomfortable to have. But they do need to be had – rather short-term discomfort than long-term resentment.