Homecoming and Family Weekend begins the day after Halloween, which also happens to be the dawn of Halloweekend, so if you aren’t prepared to let your parents/grandparents/dog/siblings experience your wholesome Wesleyan lifestyle firsthand, you’ve really got to think fast. The Moment of Doom is quickly approaching, and the timing couldn’t be worse.
If you’re not ready to welcome your family into your humble abode, or if you’re not in your finest state at the moment of their arrival, the quickest solution is to treat them like trick-or-treaters: when you hear them knocking, keep your door closed and hide. But if hiding’s not your style, there are a few other steps you can take in advance to ensure that the weekend goes swimmingly for everyone involved.
1. Act like you’re about to undergo a Fire Safety inspection.
You know that list of “prohibited items” on the Fire Safety website? (If you don’t, then I’m just going to do you a favor and tell you to get rid of that black-wicked candle now, before it’s too late. The same probably goes for the bong on your shelf.) This list will give you some useful tips on what to hide not only from the Fire Safety inspectors but also from your parents when they come into town. Use your own judgment as you scan through the items on the list: your parents might be okay with halogen lamps, but they might be less comfortable seeing used smoking materials, incendiary devices, and ungrounded extension cords in your living space.
As an added bonus, this scramble to hide things in your underwear drawer will leave you fully prepared for when Fire Safety actually comes to visit (which should be any day now, if tradition holds).
2. Tell your roommates/housemates/the nomadic squatter sleeping on your couch to follow this tactic as well.
Your roommate didn’t hit that bong by hirself, and your parents know it. Save everyone the discomfort and put everything away before your guests wander into dangerous territory.
3. Comb through the Homecoming Weekend schedule.
You’re busy. You have studying, costume preparation, and Metro runs to attend to. There’s no way you can keep all of your family members fully entertained during their time here. So help everyone out by scoping out some activities that will keep your relatives happily distracted from your inattentiveness. Point them toward a tour of Olin, a community bike ride, or the Skull and Serpent reception. If they’re here on Friday, send them to one of your classes. Make sure they take notes while you skip class to take care of more important things.
4. Get into the Halloween spirit.
If you find the Homecoming Weekend schedule to be insufficient in its offerings, go off-book and send your parents and siblings trick-or-treating on Fountain. Never mind that it’s a day or two late. They’ll love it! After 11 p.m. is best.
5. Make a restaurant reservation.
You might have stuff to do, but you won’t want to miss out on dinner with your family. And by “your family,” I mean not just the people who share your DNA, but also your roommate’s family, all your friends whose families didn’t show up for the weekend, and any other hungry-looking stray students you pick up on the way to Main Street. Crowds like yours are a waiter’s worst nightmare and a restaurant owner’s dream come true. Be warned, though: restaurants get packed on Homecoming Weekend. If you haven’t done so already, be proactive and make a reservation at that Italian place you can’t afford to go to by yourself. Things will be a lot less stressful if you’re not wandering around town looking desperately for a place to eat. Alternatively, just go to Athenian.
6. Be prepared to talk about what you’re learning in class.
Your family wants to know about the thrilling challenges you’ve been facing in the classroom, the moments when you’ve triumphed over long papers and impossible tests, the life lessons you’ve learned from your freeing liberal arts education. In my freshman year, the story I told about my latest Experimental Music project—dropping hundreds of grains of rice on the floor at varying speeds and listening to the rain-like sonic effect they produced—didn’t get quite the reaction I was going for. Be prepared with multiple stories to please a wide range of audiences.
Cast aside any nervousness you have about the weekend, and remember that your family wants to have a good time just as much as you do. The Homecoming Gods aligned Family Weekend with Halloween weekend for a reason, so get costumes for the whole family, and get ready to rage.