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You've got manners!

Ask Louise

Posted: June 20, 2008 2:01 a.m.
Updated: August 21, 2008 5:03 a.m.
Sunny weekends and great weather seem to prompt us to pack up a suitcase and get away for a few days. Kids of all ages like getting out of town and going to a different place to "live" for two or three days. Traveling can make you feel refreshed and add a new energy to your outlook on life. The bonus is that you'll likely return home with new experiences and a new set of eyes, ears, and recharged personal batteries.

While making a packing list for your getaway, you can also make a checklist for what good manners you would like to use while you are away. Whether you are going to stay with friends, or are going to a hotel or club, bringing your good manners with you will likely be a key to being invited back - and that is always a first-rate way to travel.

If you have been invited to be a guest in someone's home or their vacation spot, there are several things you can do to make the time spent together very pleasant and unforgettable. These manners are age-friendly, so whether you are three or 93, you can all participate in being a great guest.

* Tasteful timers: Before you arrive, have a conversation with your host and hostess about when it would be convenient for you to arrive at the doorstep, and also when it will be a good time to say your good-byes. It's always a good idea to be clear on this point, and not overstay your "welcome." Listen carefully to their tone of voice and wording, and use your good intuition to know what the best timing is. It's much better to have your host be sorry to see you leave so soon, rather than quietly wishing you had gone the day before.

* The supervisor: Always arrive with a nice surprise - something that will help with the meals, or add fun to the activities of the weekend, or be a special gift that you selected just for them for their enjoyment. Never come in empty-handed. This does not have to be expensive or elaborate - just something thoughtful.

* Gear gatherer: Keep all of your suitcases, bags and gear in a designated spot - and not all over the place, or in spaces that will be in the way of other people, creating clutter in general living areas. Ask where your host and hostess would like to have you put your things, and then try to gather everything within that location.

* The grateful guest: Participation is not only fun but useful. Never assume because there are many people already in the kitchen, that you can't be helpful too. Always ask "Is there something I can do to help?" Look around and figure out something that you could do to make the work-load lighter. Be a grateful guest - and dig in to make the work an enjoyable project.

* Social snackers: When finished eating snacks and having appetizers and drinks, always bus your empty dishes back into the kitchen area. Don't assume the "butler" will be in your wake picking up after you. Be watchful to see if coasters are needed under your beverages, so you don't create water-rings on nice table-tops.

* The linen lifter: Before you leave, ask what the hostess would prefer you do with the bed and bath linens. Some people like for you to leave everything "as is." Some find it really helpful if you lift those pieces into the washing machine. Follow your cues from the host.

* Trash toter: It's always helpful to gather and empty the trash containers in your guest bedroom and bath and take the contents to the main or outside bin before you leave. It's not a bad idea to check on all room trash throughout your stay, and make some appreciated trips out to the garbage area from time to time.

* No noisy Neds: If you're the first one up in the morning, and it's quiet as can be in the cabin, condo, or vacation spot, choose activities that do not create a loud sound and wake up people too early. Reading, ipoding, taking a walk outside - those are great early dawn activities. The same consideration goes for late night owls, if you happen to want to stay up later than everyone else. Note the volume control on TVs, music and your own voice.

* Forgetful Freds: If you had a forgetful moment and forgot to bring something you need and your hostess comes to the rescue, make an effort to replace that item for your hostess either before you leave, or send it to him/her once you get home.

* Note makers: The cherry on the sundae for a great weekend getaway is showing sincere thanks to the people who helped create such a fun time for you. Use your best words - straight from the heart - and tell them how much you liked your time with them and add some special wording describing what the experience meant to you. Decide what is best - a paper note, a phone call or an e-mail. What will last is letting them know how you feel.

If you get through this checklist with all "OKs" - keep your suitcase ready to get packed again real soon because someone will want you to be their houseguest, for at least a long weekend, if not more.

Louise Elerding, AICI, CIP, Personal Appearance Coach, is the author of You've Got Manners! - a series of children's books on manners. For information on Manners classes in the SCV, and to submit questions for the "Ask Louise' column, call 1-800-326-8953 or e-mail The Web site is


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