If you’re planning a group holiday, you might be thinking about the adventures you’ll have, the exciting days out you’ll spend together and the experiences you’ll share.
You might not be thinking about the unwritten rules that make sure everyone has memories that make them smile, not cringe or roll their eyes.
Follow these 10 commandments of group holidays to keep your relationships intact on the next big group holiday, whether it’s with family or friends.
1. Thou shalt not brag (or complain) about bedrooms
In every large property, there will be at least one bedroom which is the clear favourite – the one with the four-poster bed, with an en-suite, roll-top bath and the amazing views across the estate.
There will also be the smallest bedroom – the one where the servants used to sleep in the 18th Century or the one which used to be an attic before it was converted into living space.
Whichever one you get, be gracious.
This means don’t swan down to breakfast bragging about having just had the best sleep ever in your fairytale bed.
And don’t whinge repeatedly about banging your head on the low beams or having no space to put your clothes in the smallest bedroom either…
2. Thou shalt not pinch other people’s cosmetics
Sharing a large holiday house with friends or family means sharing more than just a dining table. It also means that when you hop in the shower on that first morning you might find a designer bottle of expensive shampoo left behind by the sister-in-law.
Would she really notice if you used a small squirt to give new bounce and shine to your luscious locks before you dutifully return it to her room?
Yes. She probably would. And your fabulous new look might give you away…. so resist.
Just because it’s in the bathroom doesn’t mean you have permission to help yourself. Stick to your own wash bag and bottles of lotions and potions and avoid any awkward accusations over breakfast.
3. Thou shalt make teas and coffees for everyone
There’s nothing better after a day out insert [walking, shopping or acquainting yourself with the local pub] than a good cup of tea and a shortbread biscuit.
But making a quick one for yourself and ignoring the other 19 people in the living room is a cardinal sin.
You might need a pad and a pen to get the orders right (skinny cappucino with sweetener, anyone?) but be generous with your time and karma will pay you back.
4. Thou shalt play by the rules
If you’ve ever enthusiastically agreed to a nice family game of Monopoly at Christmas you’ll know that the best laid plans don’t always work out.
Suddenly your mild-mannered Grandmother becomes a power-crazy banker, your loving husband transforms into a greedy property-owner and your sweet children become unforgiving Mayfair landlords who take delight in your inevitable bankruptcy when you land on their hotel…
But rules are rules.
If you do find yourself joining in with a harmless board game on your group holiday, remember it’s only a game, stick to the rules, and don’t hold a grudge if things turn nasty.
5. Thou shalt listen
The sign of a true friend is when you see each other for the first time in years and it’s like you’ve never been apart.
You talk and talk, barely taking a breath.
Group holidays create those precious moments when you get to spend quality time in wonderful surroundings with your favourite people and it can be tempting to pour out every anecdote you can think of, filling any pauses with more chatter.
But the most powerful way to connect with another person is to listen. Show your friends just how much they mean to you by giving them that valuable asset: your attention.
6. Thou shalt help with the cooking
Cooking for large groups can be daunting – just peeling the vegetables for 20 people can take an hour but just like Snow White’s dwarves, working together can make the job seem much less terrifying.
Be inspired with these five simple recipes to feed a crowd and when the designated chef steps up to their post for the evening’s duties, lend a hand however you can.
You might be rewarded with an extra crunchy roast potato or a particularly large portion of raspberry pavlova.
7. Thou shalt consider others before sharing on social media
You want your guests to relax on holiday, to be themselves and to truly enjoy themselves.
Posting inappropriate photos of your nearest and dearest after one too many whiskys is a sure fire way to damage relationships for the long-term. That moment you receive a Facebook notification that someone has tagged a photo of you is tense…. is it flattering? Is it something you’ll happily publish on your timeline?
Or will you want to crawl into a hole and hide as soon as you see it?
8. Thou shalt spend time apart
Group holidays are such a thrill – finally getting to catch-up with those friends and family who you haven’t seen in years.
You count down the weeks and days so you can finally spend every waking moment together, soaking up as much of them as possible before you all disperse like dandelion clocks to opposite ends of the country (or the world) – but sometimes a few hours apart can be good.
Living in each others’ pockets can create tension.
That quirky little laugh that used to be enduring when your little sister was 8 suddenly drives you mad.
And if you hear that bizarre story about the rabbit and the golf club one more time you might just lose it….
9. Thou shalt be thoughtful
Over our lives we develop habits and ways of doing things – how we stack the dish washer (NEVER mix the knives, forks and spoons in the cutlery tray), how we chop carrots (batons or rounds?), how we like our tea (milk first, obviously).
Sharing a holiday house with old friends or family members you’ve not seen for years means discovering their little habits and adapting to them.
Perhaps Uncle Jack likes his milk in last when he has a cuppa (he always was a bit odd) or your old uni friend prefers to sit closest to the door in the evenings so she can hear her kids upstairs.
Looking out for these little preferences and being accommodating is what makes you so lovely – and it’s what makes for happy group holidays.
10. Thou shalt relish every moment
Holidays always fly by, particularly when they’re spent with people you love, so treasure every day.
While you’re hitting the slopes of Glencoe, or tucking into a six course meal in the great hall of your 16th Century castle accommodation, or climbing aboard the Jacobite steam train used in the Harry Potter films, take a moment.
Appreciate your big group getaway and don’t leave it too long before you start planning the next.
If you’d like help finding your next perfect group holiday home browse this collection for inspiration.