Managing visits from friends and family

You may well find you are Mr & Mrs Popular once you either move overseas or buy a second home abroad. Having friends and family visit you can, and should, be great fun, but it does mean your routine will change and you will have more to think about. 

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Within mere minutes of settling into your new home in France you are likely to have friends and family getting in touch, asking when they can come and visit. Although seeing them is always fun, having them stay in your home can be another matter entirely.

Once you welcome your guests into your home, there will undoubtedly be more work involved as you will naturally want to make sure they are comfortable, entertained and generally having a good time. Good guests will be aware that they are just that: guests, i.e. they don’t live with you, and therefore will be sensitive to the way you live and aware that you may have things to do which don’t necessarily include them all the time. For them it is a break or short holiday; for you, it is daily life. It’s all about compromise and understanding. 

We have put together some top tips to make sure guests’ visits are enjoyable for everyone:

Make their room feel welcoming
Aside from fresh bed linen and towels, think about leaving such items as a book on your village/area and maybe even a few paperbacks or magazines. Most guests will want a little down time and will appreciate your taking the time to provide some reading material for them.

Think ahead about meals
Have a few meal plans up your sleeve for the first few days. The likelihood is that your friends will want to pitch in and help as well as take you out for the odd meal. You don’t have to be a slave to your cooker: make a casserole or two in advance and stock up on provisions.

Breakfast doesn’t need to be a grand affair either. In our case, we usually tell our friends where our local boulangerie is, and they love to go up the road to get some fresh bread in the morning. This gives them a nice chance to have a wander as well. 

Be relaxed about everything
Noone wants to think they are putting pressure on you. Take time out to enjoy your guests’ visit, to sit and chat and catch up. If you have run out of something, take them up on an offer to go and get it, and don’t be shy to let everyone muck in when it comes to clearing up. Although you will want everything to be spotless, you will find they don’t really care if, for example, the sheets aren’t ironed. Most people want to feel they are “at home” with you, and don’t wish to be treated as royalty!

Think about their visit as teamwork with everyone just enjoying each other’s company.  After all, it is only a relatively short time they are with you in your home.

Have a “things to do” plan
It doesn’t need to be set in stone, but think in advance about local attractions you would like to take them to. You may have been there countless times, but it’s fun to see places again through the eyes of people who have not been there before. You don’t need to feel you have to entertain them every single minute of the day, but a few ideas in advance are a good idea.

Get out and about
Chances are your guests will be visiting in the warmer months, so make sure you get out and about too and if you have a garden, offer them a chair and a newspaper if you have some work to get on with whilst they are there. Tell them they are welcome to go for a drive/take a bike somewhere and you will catch up with them later. Be laid back about it all!

Enjoy it!
One of the great things about living abroad is that when you do see your friends and family on a visit, you have time. Back home, you might have only been able to meet for a short while i.e. for a drink, a coffee or a spot of lunch. Now that they are visiting you for a few days, you can relax in each other’s company and not rush to tell them everything.

You will find that conversation evolves without being forced. In other words, it is good quality time which should be a joy for both guest and host. Just remember that you really don’t have to be on your best behaviour. You can have fun with them, laugh with them and be proud that they want to come and see your new home.


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