Why Not . . . Be A Good House Guest?
Wednesday April 4, 2012

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The graciousness of anyone to welcome guests into their home is one of the greatest gifts. Whether it is family who has traveled a great distance, helping out a friend as they make their way along a journey or entertaining grown children when they come back for a quick visit to see their parents, it is important that the gesture made by the homeowner is not one to be taken for granted.

In this new two part series, I’d like to share tips for anyone who is, was or ever will be a house guest.

While every host expects something different, generally there is proper etiquette to follow and that when adhered to will almost certainly guarantee a good repertoire with your host and possibly gain an invitation to stay again.

First, the initial arrival. A few things to keep in mind:

1. Plan Ahead

Well before you plan to go out of town, ask politely if the dates you have in mind are possible for staying at your host’s home. Once you are welcome to be their guest, be sure to write down the exact times of arrival that were discussed in order to prevent any mix-ups.

2. Arrive On Time

On the day of your arrival, make sure you arrive on time out of respect for your host’s schedule. And while it may seem okay to arrive early, keep in mind that most hosts want time to pick up their home and present a clean abode, so if your flight unexpectedly arrives early, do be sure to call ahead before showing up at their door.

3. Respect Your Host’s Schedule, And Share Yours 

Always keep in mind that your host will have a schedule of their own to follow, so let them know generally when you will be coming and going.

4. Bring A Thank You Gift

Upon arriving, be sure to have a gift in hand. Bring something you are certain your host would appreciate and enjoy – wine, a beautiful Jo Malone orange blossom candle or something special that will be certain to convey your gratitude.

5. Don’t Overstay Your Welcome

As my aunt reminded me when I was younger regarding house guests, “House guests are like fish, they begin to stink after three days,” and, yes, there is certainly some validity to the famous adage no matter how much you adore your guests. As wonderful as it is to be welcomed into someone’s home, always keep in mind that this is their sanctuary, this is their place to unwind, and nobody wants to be uncomfortable in their home. Even though the visit may be going well, be sure to leave on a high note, and don’t overstay your welcome.

6. Offer to Help

As a guest, offer to help with dinner if your host is making meals that you will be enjoying, or offer to walk their dog if that is something you feel comfortable with. A wonderful gesture that I know almost any cook would appreciate is the offer to clean up the kitchen after the meal. Sounds simple, but it undoubtedly will be hard to turn down.

7. Respect Their House Rules

The first example that most young adults tend to question is following their parents house rules even if they feel they are adults because they no longer permanently live in the home. As a guest, your goal is to make sure that your host is comfortable while you are in their home, and if their house rules are that young couples should sleep in separate beds, then respectfully oblige. Everyone has different values, but if you are stepping over the threshold into their home, you must defer to their expectations. And if you are uncomfortable with them, there are always plenty of hotel rooms.

8. Remember That Your Host Isn’t Responsible For Entertaining You

Sometimes when visiting there will be plans made to spend time with the host and/or hostess, in fact, maybe that is precisely why you are staying there, but if they are opening their home to you without this expectation, understand that is up to the guest to entertain themselves. Unless the host offers, have plans ready to dive into (and even if they do offer, I have found that it is always good to have some time apart from the host, as often they are offering out of kindness, but need a break as well).

Being a guest, a guest that will always be welcomed back, is to be conscious and respectful, because the goal is to help create a memorable experience for all persons involved and strengthen the relationship, not wear it thin.

Be sure to stop by next week when we’ll wrap up the series and share ways to ensure a pleasurable stay and departure.

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6 thoughts on “Why Not . . . Be A Good House Guest?

  1. I couldn’t agree more. The three day rule is so true, no matter how much you may love the guest(s), the “comfort level” runs out about then.

    I also agree with the sleeping arrangements for guests. Our houses, our rules, right?

    Also, that picture of the little house between #’s 7 and 8, how adorable is that?! Where is that taken, if you don’t mind me asking.

    Regards, Dawne

  2. My sibling said he was coming to town to see friends and announced he was staying at our house. He made no mention of wanting to see the family. He phrased it as “We just need a place to sleep.” They made no mention of any interactions with my family or myself.
    We are not young so this is not youthful talk. What would be a proper response from me? I am really hurt and sad about this, and I feel it shows a lack of concern about my feelings.

    Please publish if you think it would be helpful to other people.

    1. Anonymous

      What a frustrating situation. Your feelings are absolutely understandable. First, I would suggest talking to him about how hurt you are by his simply using you as a “hotel” without considering the imposition he is placing upon you and your family. Hopefully, after having this conversation, he will see that you are not simply there to save him money, but rather a family member who would enjoy some time with him.

      However, if he doesn’t seem to understand, then I would advise in the future, kindly, but sternly refusing to open your home to him if the same situation occurs.

      I do hope this helps.

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