I can’t believe it’s only a week away till Christmas!! Most of you are probably getting those last minute details ready, anticipating how each of your friends and family will react to their gifts, and possibly even packing in preparations for holiday travels. During my last travels to visit friends over Thanksgiving, my friend suggested to write a post on ‘How to be a good house guest’. I thought to myself for a second…hmm??
Is she saying I should write a piece on this particular topic because I need to be a better one? *laugh out loud* Or, is she complimenting me, and thinks that I should share my ‘guest-y-ness’ with the world?! Haha!
Well, I’m not completely positive, but…I’m choosing the latter one and you guys can be the judge if I’m on to something or if I should get myself together and learn some proper house etiquette;-)
And here we go…”How to be a Proper House Guest!” (insert a British accent here, for affect)
As in most things in life, when another person is involved, communicating is key! Discussing dates, times, and what you are going to be doing is important, from the very start, when arranging to stay in someone’s home. Let your hosts know the dates that you will be in town, email or text flight info, even let them know if you have any activities planned or possibly want to meet up with other people during your visit. Also, keep them updated if something changes. Ask questions, especially if you are staying in their home. Questions like…”Do you stay up late?”, “Are you working during my visit?”, “Do you have any plans while I’m there?”. Don’t assume anything! I’ve gotten myself into trouble by assuming things that weren’t accurate. It’s okay to “over-communicate”. I’m not saying repeat yourself a million times, that can get annoying, I’m just saying actually say it out loud, or text, or email at least once. (If repeating yourself is necessary, that’s okay too.)
Another good thing to mention to your host would be a list of foods you or your family might be allergic or intolerant to. Let them know in advance if you are a vegetarian or vegan…maybe even offer to purchase your own food or pitch in to offset the grocery bill. It might also be a good idea to either let your children know, ahead of time, to eat what’s placed before them or to give a list of foods to your host of things you and your family don’t eat.
Okay, here’s where things tend to get a bit tricky. Being courteous or showing respect can translate very differently. Let me explain. I have found that not only different cultures show and receive respect differently; I have also found that even people in the same culture might receive a gesture that was intended to be respectful differently. Let’s take the “taking your shoes off in a home” scenario…many people like you to take your shoes off when in their home, but some don’t like it when you’re barefoot. So what should you do? Simple, follow their lead! Be aware of how they live and act in their home and follow suit. Research can’t hurt either. Watch how friends and family treat your home while visiting. Most, not all, people give respect like they want to receive it. When traveling overseas, research that particular culture online to see what the “norm” is.
Also, it can never hurt to ask if you can help out!! I, myself, don’t really like having my guests help me with things like, doing the dishes, cleaning, etc. Unless they are staying for a longer period of time, then I would expect them to pitch in and do their part. However, I still appreciate and welcome the sentiment of offering to help. Most of us want to feel appreciated, am I right? A simple “Can I help with anything?”(for all you grammar nerds “May I help you with anything?”) can go a really long way. Now, that being said, if you think that your host seems irritated or that you find out later that they were offended that you didn’t help after they turned down your offer, that’s not your fault! I don’t know about you, but I’m not a mind-reader, haha! However, if I already know that my host would welcome help but doesn’t like to ask or say “yes” when people offer to help…I just help without asking:-)
-Saying ‘please’ and ‘thank you’s’ often
-Taking your dishes to the sink, maybe even washing them off…cleaning up after yourself in general.
-Keeping your guest room or quarters tidy
-Try, as much as possible, not to leave your stuff lying around in other parts of the house
-Being quiet when others are sleeping
-As mentioned earlier, offer to help during meal preparations and after
What does one do with the bedding and towels before leaving???
This has always been a dilemma of mine, haha! Do I just make the bed before I leave? Do I take the sheets off and leave them in a pile on top of the bed? Do I even go as far to take the dirty towels and sheets to the laundry room…maybe even start a wash before I leave?? I’m not totally sure what the most effective answer is, but I’ve done it all, haha!!
**funny story~ During my last stay, I actually took all the sheets and towels down to the laundry room and put them in an empty laundry basket…thinking I was being SO helpful! Our flight got cancelled, our hosts had to not only pick us back up from the airport *face-palm*, they had to put new bedding on our beds! Total house guest fail!!! I’m just glad our families are pretty much ‘besties’ and we’re super happy to spend another day with us:-)
Just by following these few basic guidelines, I’m sure your host will feel appreciated and respected. Relax! If you don’t always follow every one of these rules or you think you forgot something once or twice, it’s okay! Chances are, they already really like you or they wouldn’t have invited you to stay in their home, right?! (Unless you’re family, that can be a mystery at times. Unless you’re my family and you’re reading this post…then, of course I like you *wink*) The basic principle here is to communicate as much as possible that you respect your host and appreciate their hospitality:-)
That brings me to my last words of advice…always follow up with your host to thank them for having you in their home! A thank you card, an email, even a simple text now days seems to be an appropriate way to share your gratitude. (However, if you were to ask my mother, she would prefer a card). Maybe even be a little bit specific and let them know what you liked about your stay. “The dinner was delicious”, “I felt very comfortable and welcomed”, “Your home is lovely”…whatever you can honestly say to make them feel you enjoyed your time there, would be a nice personal touch.
-Offer to take your hosts out for a meal so that they don’t have to cook or clean.
-Figure out something that they need or want and purchase it for them as a “thank-you” gift.
-Go beyond just picking up after yourself, and possibly vacuum, sweep, or even clean the bathroom you used during your stay.
There you have it, friends…my humble “How to Guide” in becoming a proper house guest! Whether you’re off on an adventure overseas, visiting friends and family in a city nearby, or even making memories at home, I hope you all have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Blessings, everyone!
Maybe you have some suggestions? Or know the answer to my sheets and towel dilemma? Please share in the comments below…