Uninvited guests need ubuntu too

THE Christmas holidays are upon us and occasionally, when we least expect it, there is a knock on the door.

There stands your granny from Cala in the Eastern Cape with five of your cousins and the aunt who you have not seen for God-knows-how-many-years. Now listen to this and cry: they will be spending the festive season with you.

Now what is a girl to do?

There are two schools of thought regarding unexpected guests. Some people believe that if guests arrive unexpectedly, they are being rude and inconsiderate.

Another point of view is that if close friends or relatives do not come to your house, then you should be worried.

When faced with the headache of the situation of having to entertain unexpected guests, the first thing you must do is stay very calm and not panic says Lungisiwe Rwaxa of Sleep Well Guest House.

Rwaxa says some people, especially those from the rural areas, think that it's natural and perfectly acceptable to drop in unannounced.

"Look at the situation as a challenge. Do everything you can to accommodate the unexpected guests. Put on your best smile while welcoming them into your home, and somewhere down the line, you might just earn yourself the reputation of being the best family member."

Rwaxa says it is important to realise that guests are guests, invited or unexpected, and you should treat them the same.

"It is easy to play the perfect host when you have a guest list and have invited people of your choice. The true test however, is when unexpected people turn up when you least expect them to," she says.

Rwaxa advises people to treat unexpected guests as if youwere expecting them.

"Make every attempt to try not to make them feel unwanted or uncomfortable for arriving unexpectedly. Remember, they only came because they value you or perhaps they are in need of your friendship, or perhaps they have something to share with you that you may have never expected or received, had you turned them away," she says.

What to do when people turn up without warning:

l Keep a cool head. Though your first instinct might be to slam the door and hide under the bed, this is probably a person you would have been happy to host if you had been given notice. Embrace the unexpected nature of the universe and proceed.

l Smile big and channel your shock into an enthusiastic greeting. Entertaining any guest starts with making them feel welcome.

l Ask your guest plenty of questions, while still standing at the entrance. As a good host, you want to show concern. Listening also gives you a moment to figure out what exactly you are going to do with your uninvited guest.

l Invite your guest in and apologise that the place and you are filthy. Clear a place for your guest to sit and offer water if you have nothing else to drink. Make it clear that had you known that she was going to stop by, you would have been ready to entertain her.

l Talk about your schedule. If you have no time for entertaining, cheerfully say exactly what you have been up to and where you need to be during the course of the day. Hopefully your guest will take the hint and leave.

l Suggest the great little bar, restaurant or coffee shop down the street.

l Take leave of your guest by saying that you need to get back to whatever it is you were doing before she invited herself over. - Additional info www.howto.com