Open Thread

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This open thread is your space to use as you like. We invite you to discuss current and traditional etiquette. Feel free to ask questions of each other and the community moderators here.


  1. Sarah

    Q: Hosting Etiquette: We recently moved to the very expensive Bay Area and had to significantly downsize our house. We moved from a 4 BR, 2 BA 2100 2100 sq ft. home in the midwest to a 3BR, 1 1/2 BA 1700 sq. foot home (family of four). Now, we are expecting our parents for visits which is wonderful, but also bringing up hosting issues for me. We have one full bathroom, no extra bedrooms. We have one car that will not be large enough to fit everyone once the grandparents arrive. Who is responsible for paying for an additional rental so we can all ride together? The cost is about $600 for the week. Our budget does not allow for this, especially when considering we will have to rent two vans in less than a month’s time for their visits. Also, we are not thrilled with the idea of having everyone share one bathroom for the week. (Family of four + 2 grandparents). We would much rather our parents stay in a close hotel or airbnb, but we feel that we would be poor hosts to not do our best to accommodate them in our own home (even though it will be cramped and uncomfortable. ) Also, what we do for one family, we need to be considerate to do the same for the other. Not sure how to handle all of this and what is expected of us for hosting. I’m already worried about the increased food costs and increased expenses from all the activities they want to do. I’m not sure our parents realize that we will have to take money out of our savings accounts to pay for their visits! What should we do? Do we give up our bedroom to them? (even though the nursery is off of the main bedroom and I would have to go through their room to attend to our baby should he cry at night or early in the morning?) Who pays for the van? Thanks for your advice. Right now, I’m considering buying one of those nice, raised inflatable queen beds from Frontgate for our guests and putting it in my daughter’s room. We don’t have an extra room and it wouldn’t fit in the living room very well.

    • Elizabeth

      These are the kind of details that should be worked out prior to extending the invitation. If you invited your parents to come and visit you, either explicitly stating that they could stay with you, or implying the fact, then it sounds like its on you to make good on your invitation. You don’t really have room for them to stay, nor do you have the capacity to drive everyone around. I can understand the burden this places on your family, but do your parents have the means to not only travel to the bay area but also pay for lodging and transportation? However, if your parents invited themselves, then you could have easily said “We’d love to have you come and visit, however our house is a LOT smaller than the old one, and we don’t have a guest room. You’d probably be most comfortable at a hotel or in a nearby apartment that you can rent. It might also make sense for you guys to rent a car, because ours is only a 4-seater, and we also have to drive the kids.”

      In other words, if you extended the invitation, your guests will probably assume that you will be taking care of all the things you mentioned. If they invited themselves, then you can certainly state what kind of hospitality you can and can’t offer them.

  2. David

    I think Elizabeth’s reply is spot on. I’d like to add something clever I recently learned from an older neighbor in my apartment building who entertains her children and grandchildren regularly. SHE stays at a hotel (just around the corner)! She goes there just to sleep and have breakfast. She makes sure the fridge and cupboards are full before hand and that they have all the necessary linens. They spend entire days and evenings together, but otherwise, they’re on their own and re – stock as needed, themselves. I think it’s brilliant. You may be able to adapt this approach in a way that fits your situation. You might also offer them use of one of those pay – as – you – go car rental services at your expense. Must you all be in the same vehicle at once? No.
    I hope this helps, if not for this visit, then for one upcoming.

  3. Today I took a child on the autism spectrum to the movie theater. While we were watching the movie he talked a lot. Not generally loudly (at climactic parts it was rather loud, though), but every few minutes or so he’d say something. Out of consideration to our fellow movie watchers, I asked him to be quiet several times, which normally works, but it didn’t in this case. At times it’s hard to determine how much of what I’m saying he’s actually understanding and in the theater I wasn’t sure how much of my request was getting through.

    My question is, what’s the etiquette here? Is it okay for me to take him to the movies, even though he talks? If it were a movie for adults, I would not be asking this question, it would be unacceptable. However, this was a children’s movie and the theater was populated solely by parents and their children, so I was thinking standards might be more flexible.

    He LOVES going to the movies. That’s actually the way I reach him (his story is pretty similar to this one: ), so I’d hate to keep him away from them, but I don’t want to interrupt others either. And there aren’t any autism friendly showings in my area. :(

    So what would be your advice for me to do, keeping etiquette into account?


    • Alicia

      Yes take him to the movies. Talk to him in advance about keeping quiet in the movie theater and that you can save all your questions for after. Or at the very least if he will whisper that is nice. Maybe even occasionally play movie theater at home where you make popcorn and dim lights and then do not talk during the movie. But yes take the kid. Etiquette rules are there but the most key one is kindness. So he should go and behave to the best of his ability but anyone who makes a fuss or is a jerk about it is the wrong one. Nobody knows perfect behavior instinctively instead it is taught. He may take longer to learn then others bit part of teaching is practice.

      Oh and a trick I’ve used with my nieces and nephews is to give them a lollipop to suck on in the theater then can not talk over the lollipop.

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