How do you make your Mother and Father in Law feel welcome when they come to stay?
Depending on if you get on with your Mother and Father in Law or not the prospect of them coming to stay can be very daunting. You want to make a great impression, but without appearing to be 'sucking up' to them. If you are honest you probably want them to genuinely like you as a person and partner for their son or daughter! The question of course is 'How do you make your Mother and Father in Law feel welcome when they come to stay?' I hope that in this hub I can explain some ways that I feel will make all the difference as to how welcome your 'in laws' feel when they come to visit. Nothing too complicated or too expensive, in fact most of the advice I plan to share used to be commonplace, and consisted of things you would do both as a mark of respect for your partner's parents, and of course for your partner.
Even if you have a major dislike of your parents in law, you should put this to one side if you know they are unavoidably coming to stay. I know this can be very difficult, but because of the love you have for your Husband or Wife you should be able to grit your teeth and turn on the charm. All that said I have been lucky in my marriages at least, and whilst I rarely ever saw my first (and late) Husband's Mother, (his Father had died many years earlier), I did get on with her. My current (and hopefully last) Husband has a Father and Stepmother who I get on fabulously with, and although I have never met his natural Mother, from speaking to her on the telephone I know I like her a great deal. This does not mean I am being naïve though, as my ex-fiance had a Mother from hell, and she used to invite herself over to Tenerife (when we lived there) to stay with us for up to a month at a time, most of which she spent hero-worshiping her 'singer' son, and offering to cover for him so he could go off and sleep with other women behind my back (I found out that part much later)!! Much though I hated having her around for more than a couple of weeks, I was never rude to her, and put up with her 'antics' (and having to sit in the back seat of the car every time he drove us anywhere.) I won't dwell on this relationship here, but if you do want to know more about it read the full story on my Living with a Control Freak hub.
If you have a date when your Mother and Father in Law are coming to stay mark it on your calendar. In the time you have leading up to 'D Day', do some research to find out as much about your 'in laws' as possible. Your Husband or Wife are a good starting point here, but so are your Sisters and Brothers in Law. What you need to know (if you don't already depending on how long you have been married), are the obvious things like what foods your parents in law eat and if they have any allergies (e.g. pets hairs, hay fever, nut allergies, feather pillows etc.) Having this knowledge to hand can make all the difference, and will determine what preparations you make, and what shopping you buy prior to their arrival.
Often the little thoughtful gestures are the ones which make all the difference. Things like placing a bunch of flowers or a bowl of fruit in their bedroom so they get a nice surprise when you show them in. Even a bottle of wine and two glasses can make a great impression, (and guarantee you loads of popularity points with both your spouse and your 'in laws'.)
Take their luggage to their room for them, (don't leave them to carry their own bags,) especially if their bedroom is going to be upstairs.
Always find something to pay your Mother in Law a compliment on, e.g. her appearance, her perfume, her dress, her hair etc.
Ask them if there is anything they would like to eat or drink, (tea, coffee, wine etc.)
Show an interest in what they have to say and their topics of conversation even if the subject matter does bore you to tears.
Show an interest in them as people, and ask them about their lives, careers, hobbies etc.
Make sure you use your earlier research to ensure meals consist of their favourite foods and avoid anything they might actively dislike or be allergic to.
If you are a smoker and they aren't, smoke outside during their stay. They will appreciate the fact you are not expecting them to inhale your smoke.
If you know that one of your 'in laws' is allergic to pet hairs it might be a nice gesture to send your dog or cat to stay with a friend or family member during their stay. If this isn't possible at least do your best to keep your pets out of the same room that your 'in laws' are in at any one time.
Take them Places
Whether you take your Mother and Father in Law for a few nice meals in restaurants or simply for a bar meal, it will be nice for them to spend social time out with you, in a place where you are all relaxed and household chores aren't getting in the way of conversation.
If you know they have an interest in gardening take them to any nearby gardens that are open to the public. In Britain there are places like The Eden Project or The Lost Gardens of Heligan which are simply heaven for a gardener to visit.
If they have an interest in trains, planes, museums etc, there are usually places that are open to the public where you can take them for a day out.
If they have hobbies such as keeping fish then take them to an aquarium.
If they have a great interest in animals take them to a wildlife park.
If they like fishing, go fishing with them.
I am sure you get my drift by now. The point is to keep their trip enjoyable and memorable in a positive way. The more fun they have, the more they will feel welcome and the more they will appreciate the trouble you have clearly gone to in order to make sure they had a good time during their stay.
The Day they Leave
Finally the day they are due to leave will arrive. Offer to go with them to the airport, ferry port, railway station etc (if relevant). If they have their own car and a long drive ahead make them a pack lunch to take with them for the journey.
Tell them how much you have enjoyed their stay and make it clear that they are welcome any time and that you are looking forward to their next visit.
Depending on your gender either kiss both your Mother and Father in Law on the cheek before they leave, or kiss your Mother in Law on the cheek and shake your Father in Law's hand, (I am sure you can work out which method applies to you.)
Now go back indoors and make yourselves a nice cup of tea or coffee, you survived the 'Parents in Law' coming to stay and made them feel very welcome.
How do you get on with your 'in laws' ?
Are you willing to make an effort so that your parents in law feel welcome when they come to stay?
#12 of 30 in the March 2012 Challenge