‘Tis the season for visiting with relatives, friends, and acquaintances for the holidays. So, there’s no better time to talk about being a good houseguest. As I’ve done in previous columns, I reached out to people I know across the country to ask for their input on the subject.
Here are the top 10 suggestions for being a good houseguest. Can you identify yourself in any of these situations?
1) Ask your host(s) what time they like to start their day and how. Then, get up, get dressed, and be ready when your host is ready to get the day started, but do not intrude on their “personal time.”
2) Make your bed and do not leave your clothes hanging out of your luggage and scattered about the room. Your host might have extra drawer space and/or closet space, but maybe not. This is when you have to apply one of your “mamma’s rules:” Be cleaner and tidier in someone else’s home than your own.
3) Speaking of tidiness, please do not start cleaning things, moving things around and offering suggestions without solicitation. Yes, you should offer to help, but if you appear to be critical of your host’s home and way of living, you are likely not to be welcomed back.
4) Television usage — this certainly can be a hot topic. You are a guest in someone’s home, not a hotel room; therefore, you do not get to choose the television program. If your host walks in and you know it’s time for their favorite show, give them control of the remote. And no heavy breathing, sighing or put-downs regarding what your host finds entertaining.
5) Give your hosts a break. If you are with them more than two days, find your own entertainment and/or activities.
6) Bring a gift for your host. If you are staying with the person, it’s likely that you know them very well. There are so many options that this should be a joy and not a chore. Of course, you can always offer a gift card along with a personal note or card.
7) When you leave, leave a thank you card along with a thank you gift. Your host will appreciate the gesture. Here are some suggestions: Gift card to a movie, theater, or activity; a good book, something for relaxation. The gift should be personalized, it should say that you know the person and you noticed what they like and don’t like.
8) Leave your room or sleeping area as neat and clean as possible. Ask your host for clean linen to make the bed. At the very least, ask the host if you should take the used linen off the bed and where to leave it.
9) Offer to help with chores and be sincere about it. If the host says “no,” take that as an answer; don’t intrude.
10) Let me see if I can put this in a positive way: leave when you say you’re going to leave.
Ok, let me just be plain about it: don’t overstay your welcome!
I would appreciate hearing from my readers on this subject. What houseguest etiquette tips or houseguest stories — good or bad — do you have to offer?
Juliet Mitchell welcomes readers’ responses to email@example.com. For more of her work, go to www.mannersarememorable.com.