Cottage Etiquette

The Long Weekend is coming up which brings the official start to cottage season! Whether you are a weekender popping up for a few days escape from the city heat or a weekly guest or even a full summer boarder we’ve got some easy ground rules to follow to ensure that you become your host’s favourite guests.

Rule #1 Always Bring Food

It is always a good idea to bring food, the amount of food of course will vary depending on the length of your stay as well as how long your hosts themselves have been away from the city.

The Weekender: A light grocery run mainly consisting of snacks, provisions for charcuterie/cheese boards, and more “artisanal” items ie. fancy jams, spreads etc. It’s a nice treat for your hosts and will elevate their entertaining. A win/win for both of you.

The Weekly Guest: Ask your hosts what you can bring or if you can do a Costco run for them on the way out of the city. They may or may not take you up on that offer but be sure to still bring things like snacks, fruits, and charcuterie/cheese board provisions.

The Summer Boarder: On occasion, there are circumstances where you may find yourself staying at someones cottage over a period of multiple weeks or even months. You will 100% want to bring up a serious amount of food, especially in regards to meats, fish and poultry as well as contribute to the grocery runs while staying there.

When it comes to drinks, no matter when you are heading up or the duration I always suggest bringing up a flat or box of sparkling water as well as some fresh juices, along with your hosts favourite artisanal drink of choice ie. Dry Soda, Booch Kombucha, Bubly, La Croix etc. Drinks that will be hard to find up North and they would enjoy having their stock replenished.

I would also suggest bringing up enough alcohol for yourself and anyone else in your party, in addition to a nice bottle of wine for your hosts.

If anyone in your party has a specific dietary requirement or is a picky eater, always ensure that you bring the food required for them ie. gluten free pasta’s and breads, or if someone will only eat sandwiches for lunch bring sandwich provisions.

Rule #2 Strip Your Bed At The End Of Your Stay

While your hosts may protest or tell you not to worry it is always nice to strip your bed and either place your linens in the laundry room and remake the bed with fresh linens or launder your linens and remake the bed with the clean sheets.

It’s also a good idea to ensure all your used towels have been popped into the washing machine or at least in the laundry room and your waste bins have been cleaned out.

Rule #3 Help Out

This rule should go without saying, but in our experience you’d be surprised with how few people actually help out or contribute throughout the day. Everyone around dinner will almost be default always gather around the cooking area, but during breakfast and lunch there is less of that happening as people are waking up at different times, or down at the dock, boating etc. It’s a huge help to your hosts to step up and not only offer to help but to take a key role in those meal preparations ie. egg duty at breakfast or prepping sandwich provisions at lunch.

Another way to help out is the start doing the dishes behind them as they are cooking. If anything is left in the sink, give it a rinse and a scrub so they can focus on working. This also goes for things like blankets, pillows, seat cushions and covers etc. your host will notice and appreciate you taking the extra time to put everything back the way it was before everyone arrived.

Rule #4 Never Send Your Child Up North Empty Handed

It’s so easy to send up a big grocery bag or two of goodies with your child. It doesn’t have to be main staples like bread, milk, and eggs (but if your child has a dietary restriction ie. gluten intolerance, do make sure they have food to meet that restriction) but fun things like s’more provisions, junk food, pop etc. are always welcome.

Other alternatives are to send up a bottle of wine (passed from you directly to the parents upon child hand off), flowers, a box of chocolates etc.

Rule #5 Reciprocate in the City

We know not everyone has a cottage, so it’s difficult to have that same equal reciprocation with one week here and another week there, but you can still find ways to reciprocate your hosts efforts.

An easy and timeless option is to take your hosts out for dinner when you are back, or host them at your house for a dinner party.

Another option is if you were treated to a round of golf or tennis up north at their local club, be sure to reciprocate on your home course or court. Even if you went dutch, it’s always nice at the end of the game to say something to the effect of “we should do this the next time you are back in the city”.

Rule #6 Offer to Cook A Meal

This rule is applicable to everyone but is especially important to guests staying for over a week or frequently visit your hosts up North. You should offer to cook a meal or actually take charge and cook a meal, at least once if you are staying for a week, but much much more if you are staying for a few weeks or are visiting frequently.

Rule #7 Bring A Gift

Now we know you are already potentially bringing up food, drinks and booze, but to host someone up north is a huge amount of effort and it’s always nice to show a little appreciation with a fun hostess gift! Things like guest books, slippers, hot water bottles, fresh flowers or anything cottage esque that will add to their lifestyle up north are perfect. Memorable gifts we have received while hosting included a beautiful Jo Malone Candle, a potted Orchid, the most delicious body scrub ever (Fresh Brown Sugar Body Scrub), and a set up cozy reading socks for the whole family!

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