If you are lucky enough to find yourself with an offer to join some family or friends at the cottage this summer, you know what a rare treat that can be. To ensure you get a repeat invitation the second, third and fourth time around, follow these steps brought to you by the folks at Napoleon Grills to learn everything you need to know about how to be the perfect summer cottage guest.
You’re Invited! Now What?
First thing’s first—find out if you need to bring anything from linens and towels, to food (more on that below), and of course, know when you are expected to arrive and when you are supposed to leave. Ask about cottage rules! Just like being a guest in someone’s home, remember to be polite and helpful. Hang up your wet towel, make the bed, do the dishes, and bring your own toiletries, sunblock, and bug spray, just in case. Respect your hosts’ schedule. If they are up early, don’t spend the day sleeping. Likewise, if you are an early riser, be respectful of their sleep. Make a pot of coffee for everyone and go enjoy the sunrise while your hosts sleep in.
Unless otherwise specified, showing up with additional people is impolite. The same thing goes for pets. If you do have permission to bring your four-legged friend, don’t forget to stoop and scoop too.
Don’t expect to be entertained the entire time, but rather bring your own amusements. Read that book you have been putting off, go for a hike, or just enjoy the sunshine. Bring a game that everyone can enjoy and entertain your hosts instead (another great host gift, by the way). The cottage is a sanctuary from the craziness of technology and work for many, so give your generous hosts some space sometimes too. Being able to entertain yourself is a great skill to have and cultivate.
A word about cottage toys—cottaging can get very expensive, even more so when you factor in motorized toys. An offer to fill the gas tank on the ATV, boat, or Sea-doo may be graciously declined, but you offered and that is what matters. Consider offering to fill the propane or get more charcoal for the grill, or supplying the firewood instead.
Once invited, ask if there is any food that you should bring with you. If instructed to bring “nothing”, never, for the love of all things delicious, show up empty-handed. Use this as an opportunity instead to show off your culinary skills. Napoleon’s got you covered with savoury recipes you can try out—good food alone may get you repeat invitations, so don’t underestimate the power of a good dish!
Regarding drinks, don’t expect libations to be provided for your enjoyment the whole time you visit. Bring your own to enjoy if you have specific tastes. Better yet, bring a few different things for everyone to enjoy. You can’t go wrong with a nice bottle of wine or two, or a couple of cases of craft beer.
When it’s time to pack up
A given—make sure the places and room you were using are clean, remove and fold bed linens, and make sure you have all of your belongings. If you are leaving at the same time as your hosts, help them to clean up and close down the cottage. You can also help by offering to take away some of the garbage and recycling too.
A thank you or hostess gift on arrival and sending a handwritten note after are definitely great ways to make sure you are invited back to the cottage. Gifts don’t have to be expensive or extravagant at all. Simple things that are needed, like more beach towels, or a nice dish that can stay up there after you brought dinner in it, are ideal. Other ideas include something that can be enjoyed by all guests ; a gourmet s’mores kit, movie night in a box, chocolates, a cheese platter, nice baked goods, or even gourmet coffee are great options.
When all’s said and done, a handwritten note, nice e-mail, or a sincere thank you in person the next time you see your host is all it takes to let them know that your time at the cottage was appreciated. This is the final step to cement your perfect cottage guest persona. It will go a long way to getting you invited back.