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How to be a great holiday guest

Hint: Bring your favorite nut loaf if nobody likes it

Jeffrey Denny

Well, it’s that time of year again, when friends and family from afar grudgingly invite you to come and stay with them because you can’t afford the Day’s Inn at $50/night, plus you once infested their home with cheap motel vermin. And the sticklers at Airbnb have unfairly banned you in North America for unmentionable reasons.

You happily accept the hospitality. There’s nothing better than togetherness during the holidays! But take it from someone who used to be invited: There are several do’s — and more important, don’ts — when staying with loved ones.

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Damien Hirst, “Holidays, 1989,” glass, faced particleboard, ramin, plastic, aluminium and pharmaceutical packaging, from

Do: Make yourself at home to put your hosts at ease.

Don’t: Help yourself to the Xanax, OxyContin, Valium and other relaxing pharmacology you found rummaging in their medicine cabinet and nightstands. Your hosts need help when they have holiday guests. But they probably won’t miss just a few.

Do: Offer to bring an air mattress to sleep in the family room in case of a full house.

Don’t: Engage in sexual activity on the air mattress if you brought a friend or even if you didn’t.

Do: Bring a delicious gift, such as a Bundt cake or nut loaf.

Don’t: Select the delicious gift just because it’s your absolute all-time favorite food item that nobody else likes and many are allergic to, although if you do, you get to eat the whole thing.

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Nutley, NJ, location, from

Do: Wait your turn to use the facilities, be brief and be neat.

Don’t: Forget the all-important “look back.” Or just go out and do your business at the nearest Dunkin’ Donuts.

Do: Contribute to the holiday conviviality with amusing stories that delight your hosts and other guests.

Don’t: Tell your colonoscopy story again about how, when you woke from the anesthesiology and the nurse showed you pictures of your glistening colon, you blurted, “Wow —does anyone else have a hankering for fresh calamari?”

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Do: Ask before bringing your dog.

Don’t: Get defensive when someone doesn’t love your slobbery, powerfully flatulent, hostile and tick-infested Newfoundland as much as you do. And as much as he might need it, wait until you get home to express his anal sac.

Do: Offer to help with the cooking and dishes.

Don’t: Do an intentionally bad job so you’re never asked again, although it really works.

Do: Dress appropriately, even when lounging around in the morning.

Don’t: Walk around in a half-open shorty bathrobe, naked underneath. What are you, a Hollywood mogul, member of Congress or Charlie Rose? (No.)

Do: Help out your hosts by offering to run a few errands.

Don’t: Run their car into a ditch while sexting, take an Uber back, and make up a wild story about being car-jacked at gunpoint by an MS-13 undocumented immigrant gang, which will make at least one grandpa or cousin say, “See?! Trump was right! Build the wall!”

Do: Keep the volume low if watching TV late at night.

Don’t: Get too overwhelmed watching EroXXX HD and forget you’re on an air mattress in the family room.


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If these do’s and don’ts make your holiday too stressful, stay home, hole up for the holidays, and surround yourself with snacks and “adult entertainment” instead of family and friends.

Remember what George Burns said: “Happiness is having a large, loving, caring, close-knit family in another city.”

Jeffrey Denny is a Washington writer.

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