Social Etiquette and Good Manners/Family overnight visits


What is the appropriate notice for out of town family visits?  My in-laws have been planning to come for a holiday visit for several weeks, but have not pinned down a date until last night, Tuesday night.  They called to let us know they would be coming in town on Thursday, early evening and staying the weekend (they usually leave Monday morning after my husband and I go to work and our kids go to school).  I don't really mind them coming, I want to see them, BUT, my husband was the one that took the call, he's been sick with a head cold for several days, missing work and I am going to work, but haven't had more than 4 hours of sleep in several weeks...but he didn't share that with his parents.  Now I have 2 evenings to prepare for their visit, one of which was lost on complete exhaustion and the other I already have plans for and it's NOT to clean my house or grocery shop.

#1. I'm so angry with my husband for not telling his parents that it might be better for the following weekend.
#2. I'm bothered that my in-laws, in the 70's, didn't think that we needed a few more days notice as we both work and they are retired where "everyday is Saturday" for them.

Dear Renee:
First of all, men don't share pertinent information like you are sick and tired and it wouldn't be a good time to visit because, honestly - it doesn't occur to them to do so.  There is no use in getting upset by it - just know it is normal and work around it.

When and if you have guests, relatives or not, depends upon when you want them to come, not when they invite themselves to come.  You have allowed your in-laws to dictate to you what goes on in your house.  Therefore, it is up to you to call them immediately and tell them that you both have been ill, and this weekend would not be a good time for them to come visit.  Suggest another time if you wish.  This is a situation when a backbone is necessary - after all, good etiquette mandates that you wait for invitations, never invite yourself anywhere and what goes on in your own home is under only your control.  

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Cynthia W. Lett


Proper manners with friends,family,colleagues,neighbors and everyone else you know.


I have been an etiquette expert teaching and consulting on the subject worldwide since 1983. I started and serve as the Executive Director of the International Society of Protocol & Etiquette Professionals and am considered a leader in the field of etiquette and protocol training and execution. I edited "Etiquette for Dummies" and have recently written "Lett's Talk - Everyday Etiquette Dilemmas and What to Do about Them". My book, "That's So Annoying:An Etiquette Expert on the World's Most Irritating Habits And What To Do About Them" was published in 2009 and is available wherever books are sold. I taught the Business Protocol class to Master's level students at the George Washington University, Washington, DC for seven years I served as Chief of Protocol for MCI Telecommunications for three years.

International Society of Protocol & Etiquette Professionals, ASTD, PCMA, National Speakers Association

I have been quoted over 700 times in the past 5 years worldwide. Publications include Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Washington Times, NY Times, Washington Business Journal, USA Today, Associated Press, London Times, Newsweek Japan edition, Newsweek US edition and many many more.

I am a Certified Etiquette Professional (CEP) and Certified Protocol Professional (CPP) earned by examination through ISPEP. I have a Master's degree in hospitality law and undergrad degrees in Restaurant & Hotel Management and Public Relations/Interpersonal Communications from Purdue University.

Awards and Honors
Who's Who Worldwide,Who's Who of American Women, Distinguished Darden Professor (Purdue University).

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