11 ways to prevent cottage guests from overstaying their welcome

Man relaxing by the lake Paul Vasarhelyi/Shutterstock

If you’re like most cottagers, you like having guests. After all, welcoming friends and family to your favourite place in the world is one of the great payoffs of having to spend your summer weekends fixing the dock (again), cleaning up after raccoon raids (again), and dealing with that temperamental outboard — you know, the one that won’t work unless you holler exactly the right sequence of swear words over it.

Sometimes, though, guests aren’t all that great. After all, it’s your cottage, and sometimes it’s nice to enjoy it without having to wash yet another load of towels and prep dinner for 17 people, four of whom are vegan, and six of whom eat nothing but bacon. And every now and then, you’ll get guests that just can’t take a hint that it’s time to leave.

So what’s a cottager to do? Follow our handy (only slightly tongue-in-cheek) tips for making your guests’ stay a little less comfy.

Develop a fondness for pungent foods

The world is full of smelly food, so take your pick: whether you go for natto (sticky, fermented soybeans popular in Japan), surströmming (Swedish fermented herring), or époisses (a type of soft cheese, banned on public transportation in France because of its odour), indulge often, making sure to waft the aroma in the direction of your guests, so they can fully appreciate your newfound passion.

Change the food you serve

Proclaim (loudly, at 6 a.m.) that you’ve decided to become a vegan raw-food fruitarian and will be ritually cleansing your kitchen of anything that has a soul, a face, or casts a shadow. Scream loudly as you throw out anything that may have been breathed on by an animal. Punctuate each mealtime with strikes on a small gong, in memory of the millions of slaughtered microbes being consumed on your $12 organic apple. Spend every meal crying.

Slam doors

Every time you close a door, slam it. Blame the cottage’s weird air currents. (You know, the same ones that spread the smell of Swedish fermented herring throughout the house.)

Decide to redecorate

Start painting your living room in alternating stripes of six slightly different shades of blue. Ask for help. Change your mind about the shades 17 times. The first time your guest puts paint on the wall, scream “Where on earth did you learn to PAINT?” and flounce off to your bedroom. Remember to slam the door.

Discover some new music

Who DOESN’T like Norwegian death metal? Rig up your cottage so there are speakers in every room, then play Nekropsalms at top volume so everyone can appreciate its artistry. Insist on playing it on repeat, starting at 6 a.m. (You know what goes great with death growls? Stinky cheese.)

Pull the welcome mat out from under them.


Change the wifi passwords and network name

If your cottage has wifi, change the network name to IHATEHOUSEGUESTS. When your guests want to log on, tell them the password is 1234goguestsgoaway. Then scream Norwegian death metal lyrics at them.

Introduce a new member of the family

Adopt an 85-pound slobbery dog with bladder-control issues. Make sure all he wants to do is sit, shed, and drool on your guests’ laps. Barring that, introduce him to their pillows. If your guests complain, ignore them, look at him fondly and exclaim, “I just can’t wait to take him visiting.”

Take up a new instrument

Learn to play drums. Or the violin. Or an instrument that makes your 85-pound slobber-hound howl. Say you can only practice at 3 a.m., because “that’s when the Muse visits.” Learn to play all the tracks from Nekropsalms, then sing along.

Tell them someone else is coming to visit

But your guests don’t have to leave, of course — as long as they don’t mind your cousin who just got out of jail on a technicality bedding down on the floor in their room. The more, the merrier, right? It’ll be like camp!

Make it hard for them to get in

Keep locking them out of the cottage “accidentally” (preferably while it’s raining). If you were foolish enough to give them keys, change the locks. Feign ignorance when they say their keys don’t work. Keep the Norwegian death metal loud enough so you can’t hear them knocking.

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