We’ve all been a house guest and we’ve probably all been on the flip side and had guests in our home. You learn something from each perspective and there are certain unspoken rules to follow. So whether you are staying with a family member or friend, it’s always good to keep these considerations in mind.
5 Ways To Be a Good House Guest
1. Come bearing gifts.
Every time my sister-in-law comes to visit, she brings a suitcase full of goodies. The kids absolutely adore it and can’t wait to see what she’s brought. Sometimes it’s a big jar of jelly beans and other times it’s a small toy she picked out just for them. Every once in a while she brings a book she thinks I’ll like and it starts the visit off on a very fun and gracious note.
It doesn’t have to be big, but bringing a gift always makes a good impression.
2. Go with the flow.
Uptight guests are hard to handle. When staying in someone’s home, remember that it is just that—their home. Go with the flow of things. Be open to abiding by their schedule; if they have kids that need to nap in the afternoons, act accordingly.
I remember at one point being the only one in my family with small children who needed to nap. My siblings wanted to be out and about all day long, which just wasn’t doable for me at that stage. Find ways to have fun while still respecting your host’s circumstances.
3. Verbalize your gratitude.
Two little words can make or break your stay. “Thank you” is the simplest gesture that will go a long way in any host’s book. Say it often and find ways to express your gratitude. Every time my sister and her family come to visit, they always leave a note or send a text on their way back saying thank you and telling us how much fun they had. It’s a small thing that always puts a smile on my face and makes me glad they came to visit.
4. Pitch in.
An excellent house guest will pitch in while they’re there. My mom is the best at this. Whenever she visits, she will do the dishes, fold a batch of laundry, or make breakfast for my kids in the morning so I can sleep in a few minutes.
Although it feels like your vacation, take a look around and see what you can do to help your host out. Offer to make a dinner one night that you’re there, take out the garbage, or fill a need that you can see needs to be filled.
5. Always leave the space as good or better than you found it.
When it comes to house guests, I’m always reminded of the Dr. Seuss book The Cat in the Hat. The cat comes in and brings all of his chaos and fun with him, while the children worry about what their mother will say about the mess. But like any good house guest, the cat comes through in the end and cleans up every last trick, including Mother’s best dress.
Like the cat, make sure to leave your host’s space as good or even better than how it was when you got there.
What NOT To Do
- Don’t expect to be entertained. One of the biggest stressors for a host is trying to figure out how to entertain guests. Be courteous and come with your own ideas of things to do in the area and then be open to suggestions and recommendations.
- Don’t be too loud in the morning or at night. Be considerate of quiet hours. Ask your hosts when they prefer to go to bed and wake up and then observe those quiet hours too.
- Take over. Don’t hijack the TV or spread yourself and your stuff all over the house. That’s just plain rude.
- Never assume you can just bring your pet. Some people don’t like animals and especially don’t appreciate them in their homes. If you have an animal friend, make alternative arrangements or at very least, run it by your host.
- Overstay your welcome. There’s nothing worse than a guest who stays too long. Make it clear how long you wish to stay and then keep good on your promise.
- Leave your child’s diapers lying around. Similar to pets, some hosts are not used to babies. Don’t leave their soiled diapers lying around or even in a seldom-used garbage can. Take all diapers outside immediately.
- Bring your vices inside. Whether it’s smoking or picking your nose—be conscientious of your bad habits and leave them at the door.
When in doubt, the golden rule always applies: treat your hosts like you’d like to be treated and they’re more likely to extend a second invitation.