Of course #2 is a good one, too. I always ask if I can help and not stand around talking instead like a lump. But I never volunteer to do anything specific. This year I'll offer to do something specific, though I know a lot of people like their dishwashers loaded to their own specifications. Maybe I'll volunteer to dry dishes instead.
The Gracious Guest: Five Tips for Holiday Visits
- All hosts—including your mother and aunts—love a surprise gift.
- Be willing to pitch in, but instead of asking the harried host how you can help, volunteer to do a specific job like loading the dishwasher.
- If you make the offer to help and the host firmly declines, back off—some people really don’t want guests in their kitchen.
- At family get-togethers, don’t let nosy questions upset you. Deflect rudeness by changing the topic: “You’re right, Uncle Jim, I was thinner last year. How ‘bout those Steelers?”
- Visiting friends or family? Observe this rule of thumb: Three nights is usually plenty. Spell out arrival and departure times well in advance so your host isn’t left guessing.