Have you ever had family or friends stay with you that were so irritating you wished you could just tell them how you felt or wished they would go home? Perhaps you were that house guest at some point without even realizing it. Staying in another person’s home is not always the most comfortable or enjoyable experience at times, even if you’re staying with those that you know well. If you’re new to staying in another person’s home you might be left wondering what your role is.
In last week’s post, we looked at etiquette for hosting house guests, just in time for the holiday season.
Below are some tips on how to be the kind of house guest that your host will truly be sad to see go.
House Guest Etiquette
1. Write a List- While a friend or family member probably wouldn’t mind sharing a hair dryer with you or letting you borrow their tube of toothpaste, this could become annoying over the course of a week to share various items. The best bet is to make a list several days before you pack your bag(s) adding new items as you remember them and cross off each item as you put it into your bags. This way you’ll avoid having to run to a local store to pick up toiletries or constantly asking your friend to use their floss, etc. For larger items like hairdryers, if you’d don’t have a tiny travel version you might want to ask our host about that beforehand. They may have an extra or tell you not to worry.
2. Be Thoughtul– Just as I shared in the hosts’ etiquette tips, you might want to do something special or thoughtful to let your host know you appreciate them having you in their home. It may be a bottle of wine, a thoughtful card or handmade gift or it may be a dinner out on the town, add that to your list and do forget to bring that item along if it needs to be packed. While hosts don’t generally expect anything in return, they do go to a lot of effort cleaning and preparing their home and a room for their guests and it’s nice to feel appreciated. One area to be mindful of is when booking your flight/train ride or arrival that you try as best as you can to make it during the hours of 8am-10pm. Arriving at midnight, especially during a weeknight can be exhausting if your host has to pick you up.
3. Don’t Do Anything You Wouldn’t Do in Your Home– This probably sounds obvious but say for example you need to take off your mascara and you’re provided with a lovely white washcloth. You probably wouldn’t use that in your own home for fear of staining the cloth. Ask you friend for a darker cloth or be sure to wash it off really well before using the white towels. One exception is putting your feet up in someone’s home, especially on a coffee table is a no-no. No matter if you do it in your home or not, it’s not respectful. Be sure to ask your host about wearing shoes in the house and what their policy is. Don’t smoke on their property without asking where it is acceptable to do so.
4. Clean Up– Regardless of how neat you like to keep your home, it is important and will show respect if you make it a habit to tidy up after yourself whether it be making your bed in the morning, hanging your towel up after a shower and putting away your toiletries or putting away item used in the kitchen. The last thing you want to do is make extra, unnecessary work for your host. in fact, if you have a little time your host would be overjoyed if you did the few dished in the sink, loaded the dishwasher or tidied up the shoe area in the front hall. Anything you can do to show you care and can make their life easier will mean more to them then you know. If you happen to break, spill or ruin something, make sure you get to it right away and let your host know. It’s never a good idea to try to cover up something that’s been damaged.
5. Do it for Yourself- If there is anything that you can do for yourself such as make you own breakfast, make coffee for everyone in the morning or do your own laundry, do it. You don’t want to overwhelm your host with trivialities. If your host has not given you free reign and declared ‘mi casa es su casa’ then ask politely if you can make coffee for everyone vs. taking initiative. If your host hasn’t told you to make yourself comfortable and grab what you need, they may have forgotten or may have a preference for who does what in their home. If you see them preparing dinner though, jump in and help them. If you ask them if they need help, they’ll likely say “no”.
6. Keep Comments to Yourself– You may be staying with a couple, your parents or complete strangers. Whatever the situation, it’s always a good idea to try to mind your own business. If there is a marital tiff or a couple asks you for your opinion in a joking way, let them know you don’t want to get into the middle. If you disagree with the way your sister parents her children, or perhaps there is a funky smell coming from the fridge or you don’t like what is being served for dinner, do not comment. Just remember that while you may do things differently, you’re only a guest for a few days and then you can home and do things as you wish.
7. Departure– While wine is a gift best given the first day of your trip upon arrival, a card along with something you’ve brought from home or a beautiful bouquet of flowers you picked up locally would be a wonderful way to thank your host and give them something goregous to remember your visit by. If your host played ‘tour guide’ to you in their home town, or you spent your days sightseeing together, you might even want to put together a cute and inexpensive little photo book and mail it to them afterwards. You can always email them your best digital photos, just be sure to include some of you together. If you were having so much fun that you forgot to even leave a card, be sure to mail one out as soon as you get back home.
Click HERE for some great hostess gift ideas for a dinner party or your next in-home stay so you can be a grateful guest.
Have your house guest experiences been good? What things did your guests do to either really suprise you, annoy you or elate you? Leave a comment!
Thanks for reading!