Houseguest Etiquette

Houseguest Etiquette 101

If you’ve recently been invited to a party or an overnight stay at someone’s home, it’s important to remember that there are good guests, who are welcome additions to any gathering, and bad guests, who often detract from the festivities. Chances are, your host is working hard behind the scenes to make your experience as pleasant as possible. How can you return the favor by making sure you fall into the “good” or even “amazing” guest category? These six houseguest etiquette rules can take the guesswork out of being a great guest.

1. RSVP as Soon as Possible

The first rule of houseguest etiquette is to let your host know whether or not you can attend a gathering within a week of receiving the invitation, even if no RSVP is requested. After all, an early head count can help your host plan. Even if the invitation provides a “maybe” option, try not to select it. An iffy answer, especially from several invitees, can leave the host in frustrating limbo. Make sure your host knows that you’re making his or her invitation a priority.

2. Call Ahead About Your Special Needs

Whether you are on a special diet, have multiple dietary restrictions, are trying to lose weight, or have a health condition that can impact your stay, call ahead to let your host know. Try to suggest a work-around to make your situation as easy for the host as possible. For example, if your host has a cat and you have a cat allergy, you might want to consider taking your allergy medication and just stopping by for dinner, as opposed to committing to an overnight stay. Or if your kids have multiple food restrictions, you might want to offer to bring a dish you know that’s safe for them to eat.

3. Bring a Gift

When RSVPing, ask your host what you can bring. Even if your host specifies an item, such as a dessert or wine, you might want to tote along a little something extra, such as a decorative plant. Never “just bring yourself.”

A Plant on a Table

A small houseplant can make a perfect host gift.

Photo Source: Pexels/Tranmautritam

4. Help Out

During your stay, take the initiative to make your host’s life easier. If your host is working in the kitchen, don’t ask, “What can I do?” These types of open-ended questions put the onus on your host to keep you busy, which can be stressful. Instead, ask a specific question that requires only a “yes” or “no” answer, such as: “Can I peel those potatoes for you?” or “Can I help pass around these appetizers?” If you’re staying over, pitch in around the house and pick up after yourself.

If your host declines your assistance, mingle with the other guests. Consider it part of your job to be a good conversationalist to help make the event run smoothly.

5. Power Down

Whatever you do, don’t be rude by planting yourself on the couch and burying yourself in your phone. Don’t text under the table or check Facebook frequently either, as these types of actions can make your host and the others around you feel unimportant. If you must check your phone frequently because, for example, you want to check in with the babysitter, do it discreetly. Perhaps you can simply duck into the bathroom for a few minutes.

6. Leave a Lasting Impression

If you stay overnight, strip the beds and arrange the sheets and used towels in a neat pile on top of the bed. Thank your guests as you depart and send a thank you note, too. An e-mail or text will do, but a handwritten thank you note is even more thoughtful.

A Thank You Card

A simple handwritten card can be a great way to show your appreciation.

Photo Source: Pexels/Kaboompics Karolina

Overall, it’s small gestures like these that can add up to make the difference between a good guest who gets invited back and a not-so-good guest who might not make the guest list next time.

Featured Photo Source: Pixabay/Idamkilde

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