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Visiting family in the U.S. over the holidays? It can be lovely to spend time with far-flung relatives during festive times, but there are ways to make your stay even merrier for everyone involved.

While the holiday season is often lauded as ‘the most wonderful time of the year’ it can also be one of the most stressful – especially for those hosting out of town guests. If you’re one of the many Canadians heading to the U.S. to visit family across the border this year, here are some tips to ensure peace and joy in your host’s home this season.

DO Help Out

Leading up to the main event, offer to help in a variety of ways – from going to the grocery store, preparing a dish, and picking up the turkey. If the host wants to do it all, however, don’t push it. You can always help out in other ways, such as playing with the kids, clearing the table after meals and always cleaning up after you and your crew. Be ready to lend a hand, and encourage anyone else you brought along to be helpful as well.

DON’T Be a Downer

Is it raining during your entire stay? Is the dog keeping you up at night? Quarters a little cramped? Nothing’s perfect over the holidays, but its best to keep any complaints to yourself, don’t compare to the holidays back home, and focus on the bright side. Chances are, the host is feeling the pressure to pull off a stellar event and will need support instead of a griping guest.

DO Ask About Ground Rules

The host family may have set limits on drinking, sweets, TV time and other holiday indulgences. Find out what they might be so that you and your family can be respectful of the way they live and fall in step.

DON’T Expect to be Entertained

It’s a good idea to plan out your time – which doesn’t mean you need to spend every minute together. Talk about what you might want to do while you’re in town, and ask if they’d like to come along or do their own thing. Find a balance between spending time together and time apart so they don’t feel like they’re your tour-guide, but not your Airbnb either.

DO Show Your Gratitude

Putting you up over the holidays is no small feat. To show your appreciation, you could take your hosts out to dinner or offer to cook a meal for everyone. Be sure to thank them multiple times to sincerely demonstrate that you appreciate the time and effort it took to host you.

DON’T Overstay Your Welcome

Be clear about when you’re arriving and when you’re leaving. You’ll likely have a wonderful time in your host’s home, but they’ll want some time to themselves too. Keep the length of your stay contained and leave when you say you will.


While your accommodations might be free during your U.S. stay, if you plan to do any shopping or dining out while you’re south of the border, you can save money on your travels with the right U.S. banking products. For instance, consider travelling with a U.S. dollar credit card to save on foreign transaction fees, and think about opening a U.S.-based bank account if you frequently visit the U.S. to see your family.