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Host and Guest Etiquette Tips for Muskoka Cottagers

BY KAREN CLEVELAND

You don't have to bring lobsters for dinner, but when you're a cottage guest, any help you can provide in the kitchen is always appreciated (photo: Ryan Vettese)

You don’t have to bring lobsters for dinner, but when you’re a cottage guest, any help you can provide in the kitchen is always appreciated (photo: Ryan Vettese)

The legendary hospitality of Canadians is in its prime during the laid-back cottage season. Whether the notion of a few days up north means a rustic little cabin in the woods or a luxurious lakefront home, a bit of planning and decorum goes a long way to keeping both hosts and guests happy.

COTTAGE HOST ETIQUETTE TIPS
Bless you for opening up your abode to those without cottages. Your kindness doesn’t go unnoticed.

Relay key information to guests in advance. For example, what time to arrive, things they should bring, or other good-to-knows (the nights are chilly, or there are only outdoor washroom facilities, for example). These little cues to help avoid any unpleasant surprises.

Stock up well before your guests arrive. It can’t hurt to overestimate on food and drink and to stash a few basic provisions like extra sunscreen, bug spray or toothbrushes. It’s certainly above and beyond the call of duty, but still a nice gesture.

When guests arrive, give them the lay of the land. If there are any housekeeping notes they should be aware of, like closing the door to ward off mosquitoes, or a delicate septic, let them know.

Set your guests up to be self-sufficient. Point out where things are and mention a few activities they can do without you. A solo canoe ride might be just the ticket for an afternoon when quarters feel close.

Enjoy your guests. Plan a menu that lets you spend time with them, rather than cooped up in the kitchen, and don’t shy from accepting help when it is offered. The sooner things get done, the sooner you can enjoy each other’s company.

COTTAGE GUEST ETIQUETTE TIPS
Charm your hosts so much on your first visit that you’ll secure yourself a spot at the top of the invitation list right through to Labour Day.

Know when your hosts expect you to arrive and depart. This decreases the chance of surprises or overstaying your welcome. Arrive with something serviceable for your visit. Food and libations are good standbys, as well as a little gift for your hosts to thank them for their hospitality.

Make yourself helpful by pitching in. Assist with meal preparations and cleaning up, and generally be the most easygoing version of yourself. Don’t like the weeds in the swimming area? No need to voice your discontent, just soak up the sun instead.

Respect your host’s space. Don’t take over the entire bathroom vanity, leave your things strewn all over the deck or hijack the iPod docking station.

Show your gratitude. After your visit, swiftly send your hosts a thank you, telling them how much you enjoyed their company and their
lovely cottage.

Karen Cleveland is a Toronto- based etiquette writer and advisor. Follow her on Twitter @schoolfinishing or visit her website.

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