Oh, we know what you’re thinking: “Shouldn’t I be trying to make my home more inviting for the holidays?”
Ordinarily you’d be right. But it’s been a long year, hasn’t it? By the time the holidays roll around, you’ve already had to deal with months of prep and work-related stress for the consumption-driven season that lies between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Traffic’s ramping up; your wallet’s slimming down. In fact, you may even be thinking that all you want for Christmas is for the holiday season to just … come and go. Quickly, and preferably in quiet solitude.
There’s only one problem: you’ve got guests coming. And if there’s one thing that can make the holidays drag on (and on), it’s guests. Unfortunately, since they cornered you into saying yes to this extended visit, you really have only one option: subtly make nearly every aspect of their stay so – how to say this? – uncomfortable, that they pack up and leave early.
Now, being Midwesterners ourselves, we know being devious and spiteful, especially to guests, doesn’t come naturally. So we’ve put together a little list of suggestions: the four best ways we know to make guests long for home. Or a hotel. Or that underpass on I-95. Anything, really, as long as it’s not your house.
You know those cozy cotton flannel sheets you put on your guest bed for winter? That lovely duvet cover and down comforter? Forget about ’em. Cozy is the last thing you want your guests to be. Do yourself a favor: transfer those beauties to your bed, then go to the nearest department store and look for something less luxurious – preferably made from mostly polyester, viscose or some other synthetic fiber. The less pronounceable the name – and scratchier the feel – the better for your purposes. Synthetic sheets tend to feel like ice in low temperatures – which you will of course ensure. (“Gee, I’m sorry the furnace conked out while you’re here. Even when it’s working, we’ve always had trouble getting heat into that guest room.”)
If you have one of those fancy mattress pads on your guest bed, take that off, too. Make sure they can feel the springs. We like to loosen a few bolts on the bed frame also; they’ll appreciate that every time they roll over.
Simple, but highly effective. Dig out your oldest, most ragged, least absorbent bath towels (you may have to look in the garage or basement for these). You don’t want your guests feeling like they’re staying in a spa, after all. The less absorbent, the better, especially if you’re employing the “broken furnace” scenario.
One more thing: be sure to remove those fluffy bath mats. You don’t want guests feeling anything more than cold, hard tile. This isn’t that “really nice” hotel off Edgewood Ave that has a holiday special, after all. You won’t have to say a thing: they’ll be reminded of it every time they yell as they step out of the shower onto that frozen floor.
This one explains itself. Food is comfort. Comfort is not your friend here. An empty fridge is one of the quickest ways to have guests planning an early exit. Just tell them you’re on a diet. (Pro tip: If you’re from Wisconsin like we are, you can accomplish the same thing by simply discarding the beer and cheese.)
Nothing sends friends and family to that hotel off Edgewood Ave with the holiday special – and bathroom rugs! – faster than asking for their help assembling furniture, repainting a bedroom or putting up exterior lights. This is your chance to turn the tables. Worst case scenario, you get some stuff done. Best case scenario, you fast-track yourself to the quiet holiday you deserve.
If any of this leaves you feeling guilty, just remember: odds are that you probably won’t see these people for another year. By that point they’ll have long since forgotten the little ups and downs of their visit and will be ready and willing to take advantage of your hospitality again.
You’ve got a year to prepare.