We recently wrote an article about having great guest rooms. It was suggested to us that we should turn our attention to what makes a good houseguest. As someone who frequently has houseguests (perfect ones, I might add), I agree that it might be a helpful topic.
Here are some pointers:
Be specific about dates and times of arrival and departure. Dates should be obvious. Rough time estimates are helpful because we are all busy, and your host might want to know if he/she can go to a yoga class, or make the last minute dish for supper the morning of your arrival. It’s also awkward for your host to have to ask your time of departure once you’ve arrived! That being said, do not arrive before you are expected, or leave later than you said you’d leave!
Are you familiar with the well known Benjamin Franklin saying “Fish and visitors stink after three days”? Keep visits on the short side.
Don’t bring a pet unless the pet has been specifically invited. I have two dogs I always invite to accompany their mistresses, Eli and Bea, but I wouldn’t be happy to see a surprise pet galloping up the driveway.
Pack what you need. Ask your host what activities they have planned during your stay.
If you have your heart set on doing something specific while visiting, (like seeing an old friend, or shopping at a favorite store) tell your host beforehand.
If you eat or drink specific things try to bring them with you but if that’s not possible, alert your hostess so she can have something you can eat on hand.
Bring a hostess gift when you arrive. We’ve written several articles with suggestions.
Bring your own toiletries. It’s OK to borrow a hair dryer, but not a toothbrush, toothpaste, a razor AND face cream…you get the picture.
No one really means ‘Mi casa es su casa’. In other words, don’t make yourself too much at home. If you’re the first one up, it might not be a good idea to use up all the eggs in the fridge in case your host needed them for her special dessert for dinner. Don’t walk on eggshells, but be aware of boundaries.
Be flexible, especially if your hosts have made plans for all of you. Try to adapt to their schedules and patterns, and respect the rules of the house.
Keep your guest room and bathroom neater than you would at home. I try to make the bed every morning and am careful not to spill on or stain anything. I unpack and put away my suitcase so my stuff isn’t cluttering up the room.
Don’t leave your things scattered all over the house.
Always offer to help at meals. Help with cooking, setting the table, clearing the dishes, washing up.
Offer to contribute. If you all go out to dinner try to pick up the check. If that fails, make sure to contribute your share of the bill. Offer to buy groceries.
Do your own laundry but ask permission first.
Be ready to amuse yourself. If it’s a long visit, give your hosts a break by going off on your own adventures, settling down to read your book, or going out for a walk.
Gush. Be appreciative for everything your host does for you.
When you leave, ask your host what they’d like you to do with your sheets and towels, then make sure you do it.
Write a thank-you note!
If the visit went well, and you have something you can share with your friends, reciprocate.
It sounds exhausting being a good guest! Time to go home.