(Closed) What does "make yourself at home" mean to you? How far is too far?

posted 3 years ago in The Lounge
Post # 31
1149 posts
Bumble bee

btob17:  I think your Fiance might be right about this. OP’s being burgled politely.

Make yourself at home for me is usually sitting back, myabe slouching. Asking to get myself a drink. If offered I might eat. I usually just always ask before I eat or drink anything in case it’s something that’s meant for something else. Ex: two slices of bread left, but that’s meant to be their child’s lunch tomorrow or finger food in the fridge that they’ve prepared for a potluck later somewhere. Unless I’m offered a meal, I won’t ever eat beyond what’s considered a light snack at someone else’s house.

Post # 32
1184 posts
Bumble bee

When I say ‘make yourself at home’ to house guests I generally mean:

-potter around any communal areas, use TV, radio and connect to wifi if you like

-feel free to make yourself a cup of tea/coffee/juice etc

-help yourself to basic nibbles eg biscuits/fruit/crisps (but most people wouldn’t) 

-if if they’re up before me I tend to point them to breakfast stuff on the evening so they can help themselves in the morning. 

Its certainly not a free for all. if I’m honnest i hate house guests so if somebody is staying they’re a good friend of family anyway  

Being British, make yourself at home (unless you are close friends/family staying for a few days) actually means ‘you may make yourselves a cup of tea but you must feel awkward and apologetics bout doing so and dont in ANY way act how you do at home’


Post # 33
1977 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: May 2016 - Sussex, UK

DaisyBlossom:  Haha as a Brit I love that.  It’s so true. I also hate having house guests too. Family for a couple of days is just about ok. 

Post # 34
595 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: May 2017

I would never eat someone out of house and home like that, and when I am ‘making myself at home’ at someone else’s place, I like to replace what I’ve used.

At the friends house where we stay most often, we wake up earlier than then usually so make everyone coffee and get collect the eggs from their chickens to make everyone breakfast, I’d never just graze through someone’s pantry like the OPs in laws.

Post # 35
672 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: August 2016

When I tell a guest to make themselves at home, I genuinely mean it. I mean that they should treat my house like their own home and help themselves to anything (food or drink obviously) in the house. I close the doors to any rooms I don’t want them in and assume they are rational adults to not go in. I have definitely had guests that ate quite a lot of my food but honestly, I don’t care. They’re guests and I guess they were hungry. I don’t have any regular guests that do this. If I did, I would politely ask them if they wouldn’t mind only have two bags of tea because it was a gift, or whatever. Or I’d simply not invite them over as much if i was on a budget.

I do this because when I am the guest, I hate feeling uncomfortable and I always do because I don’t feel comfortable anywhere but home and even after someone tells me “make yourself at home” I still ask for stuff (and always clean up after myself, obvi) because i know that most people don’t actually mean this and you never know what end of the spectrum people are on this issue. That is one thing about American culture (and maybe British/Australian too?) that I don’t like: saying “niceties” that you don’t really mean. If I can’t eat your potato chips that are in the pantry, don’t tell me “I should make myself at home.” You don’t mean it. If you did, you let me eat your potato chips in the pantry! haha. This should be a matter of basic common courtesy on both sides. Don’t eat people out of house and home and don’t be too bothered if someone eats you out of house and home. 

Post # 36
2146 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: July 2017

maymrswinks:  if I took it littrally then you should prepare for me to strip off to my knickers, grab a quilt, build a nest and nick your wifi while being totallty anti-social as hell because thats what I do at home lol

Post # 37
2331 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: January 2015

Sounds like classic binge/purge to me

Post # 38
550 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: August 2016 - Theater

I learned the hard way that my SIL’s make yourself at home actually only means that you must sit down (but not on the couch or arm chair), shut up, and leave with profuse thanks for their hospitality. I guess sitting uncomfortably in awkward silences is a great priviledge.

Post # 39
108 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: July 2017

It depends on where I’m going to be honest, if I’m at a friends house then as PP’s said I usually will just have a drink. However if I’m at a families house, such as one of my sisters or my mums I’m more than welcome to help myself to food in their fridges or whatever it is I wanted, just as they are at my house. Same for my SO if we go to his mums house, if he hasn’t helped himself she will always send us home with a bag full of stuff. So I guess it just depends on personal preference. 

Post # 40
672 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: August 2016

btob17:  Bahahahaha! It certainly wouldn’t be the first time, lemme tell you!

Post # 41
5860 posts
Bee Keeper

‘Make yourself at home’ depends how close I am to the person saying it. If I’m not super comfortable or familiar with the host/hostess saying this, I’d likely still have to be offered a drink or snack (unless I was babysitting rather than a guest) If we’re staying at my sister’s, where I truly do feel able to make myself at home, I’ll go into her fridge and cupboards, make something to eat, maybe forage for a midnight snack if we’re having a moviefest and she’s gone to bed already. But several things I wouldn’t do:

Take stuff home (unless offered)

Turn down meal and snack offers then (allegedly) eat in secret. 

Take all/ most of something

Eat/ drink stuff obv intended for a toddler. 

Touch anything expensive &/ or unopened or likely to be saved for something specific (common sense would tell me that an unopened package of pepperoni and an unopened brick of mozzarella might be for a pizza she’s making, not kept on hand for a midnight snack for guests)

And if I’m a guest, I usually bring something- homemade cookies or a bottle of wine or veggies with a homemade dip. 

Something is def up OP because even for relatives who take ‘make yourself at home’ to the literal extreme, this is odd behaviour. Financial difficulties? Eating disorder? Some kind of food specific kleptomania/ hoarding? Have you talked to your husband about how downright odd this all is?


Post # 42
3451 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: September 2013

You’ve taught me about the dangers of using that phrase. I tell people “make yourself at home” or “make yourself comfortable” all the time, but I’m sure that what I really mean by that is “make yourself a guest.” lol. If I’ve invited someone to make themselves at home, I’m expecting them to take their shoes off, go to the bathroom without asking, feel free to change the channel, maybe plug in their charger. Only if they were an overnight houseguest, would food enter the equation. And even then, I’d still hope they’d ask before turning on the stove, thawing anything I’ve had in the freezer, uncorking a new bottle of wine or anything like that.

Right before I got married, I had two friends stay over for about 10 days and I’d told them to make themselves at home. I found one of them using a new towel I’d gotten as a wedding present (I wasn’t even using those towels yet because I felt like they were for after the wedding, lol) and I was like “whoops! Guess I don’t mean for you to make yourself at home afterall, lol”

Post # 43
1837 posts
Buzzing bee

You say they come over to “see” your son, but it sounds like they are there all day and you aren’t … in which case they are babysitting, right? All day? The food they are scarfing probably costs less than a babysitter would. I bring this up beause I’d probably feel more entitled to eat out of a relative’s cupboards if I were told to make myself at home and I were watching their kid all day — as opposed to being told the same thing when visiting from out of town and the relatives are putting me up. In one situation, I’m doing the favor, in the other situation, they are. So it’s different. 

I’m not saying they aren’t crossing a line here … it sounds like they are. Especially with your tea. But as PP pointed out, your husband told them to make themselves at home and that is what they are doing. Hide the good stuff. 

Post # 44
3873 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: April 2017

‘Make yourself at home’ to me would mean being able relax on the couch with a book, and have some water or tea or a snack. I would wash my dishes and definitely wouldn’t eat anything that looked special or open anything new.

It does sound like there are some weird eating patterns going on. I used to suffer from binge eating disorder, and there were a few times I babysat at other people’s houses and it was really difficult to be around lots of food items I didn’t allow myself to have at home. However I managed to keep myself to reasonable limits as I would have been utterly mortified if anyone noticed my eating. I certainly wouldn’t annihilate someone’s kitchen every time I went over! You seem to have a really good attitude about this though, I hope it gets better!

Post # 45
445 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: February 2015

No, I would never to that.  But, I would put away, far away the things you don’t want them to touch or get too.  If they are coming over ‘often’ then it is and can be a problem.  I would also put out the things in plain sight and state, ‘I bought special things for you guys to eat while YOU ARE HERE TODAY.’  Even purchase a cheap ice box, pack it with stuff from the fridge you don’t want them to get to and put in the garage where they can’t see or get to it.  I would also state, ‘Hey guys…  The stuff in this cabnet is for my baby so its off limits.  Or, please don’t eat anything in there.  Or, I don’t have time to hit the store before Wednesday so can you please not eat what is in this cabnet.’

I used to live with an ex-boyfriend and his parents would come over all the time…  Not to visit but more to see how we were living.  They would usually always come over during ‘dinner’ time and want something to eat.  This is when I was much younger and didn’t have a great deal of money for food.  We had to be extremely careful what was eatten otherwise we would run out of food before the end of the month.  It happened a million years ago but damn it, it was rude and insensitive of them to do that.

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