Dear Ms. Demeanor,
My in-laws are coming in for the holidays and insisting on staying with us AGAIN. We have a reasonably comfortable apartment for our family of five but do not have room for two more people who, suffice it to say, are not the tidiest in the world.
We have offered to pay for a hotel room for them but they say, "No, no, no... Don't spend the money. We are very comfortable on the couch. We LOVE to stay with you." They may be comfortable but we most certainly are not. How do I finesse this without putting a damper on the holiday festivities?
How often do your in-laws come to stay and for how long? Guests are like fish and they start to smell after 3 days. If we are talking 3 days out of an entire year, let them enjoy seeing their grandchildren wake up and go for a nice long massage after they leave.
Remember that telling someone you will pay for a hotel or handing them a nicely presented hotel gift certificate/reservation, perhaps with credits towards the hotel spa, send two entirely different messages. The former is, "We don't want you to stay with us" and the latter is, "We appreciate all you do for us."
With respect to the tidiness, there is probably little you can do but defer to your spouse to gently remind/advise them that (a) you don't want anyone tripping over suitcases and (b) there are lots of mice in NYC who would be more than happy to nibble your father-in-laws pretzel crumbs off the computer keyboard.
If none the above are helpful, try to get a job as an advice columnist. Your in-laws will make for great material.
A wink and a nod,
Ms. Demeanor is channeled by a longtime Manhattan vertical dweller and real-estate voyeur who writes under the pen name Jamie Lauren Sutton. She is here to commiserate, calm and correct. Please email your quandaries to firstname.lastname@example.org and put "Dear Ms. Demeanor" in the subject line.