Manners are important; especially in my family. Being a good hostess is one of my top priorities so when I become a guest, I am particularly conscious of my actions. Jojo and I have recently been houseguests for over a month with one of the coolest, most gracious families ever and even though we are now ensconced in our own place, being a houseguest is still fresh on my mind. Having been on both sides of the coin, here are some tips on being a good houseguest- no matter your duration.
1. Make Your Bed- It always amazes me how few people actually know how to really make a good bed. I’ve been taught by several people the proper techniques and it’s so not hard. The tad bit of extra effort it takes to tuck the sheets and make them crisp and tightly fitted, or to brush the wrinkles out of the bedspread make all the difference. Plus, often times, the room you are staying in is a functional room in someone’s home and they will probably have to go in there at sometime. It just shows cleanliness and respect, you know? A general rule is to make it how you found it. Also, when you leave, ask if your host wants you to strip your sheets. It just saves them the step.
2. Do The Dishes- Dishes and laundry, as you know, are the never-ending chores. Although your host may wave you away and insist on you not doing this, if you are staying longer than a night, then do it anyways. Just don’t do a half-arse job… I’ve had someone sweetly offer to do dishes and then I had to wash them all over again because they didn’t really rinse them. If you can’t do the dishes, try offering to put them away. Some quick detective work will show you where glasses, dishes, and silverware go. You may have to ask about some of the trickier stuff, but still the act is MUCH appreciated.
3. Make Yourself At Home- This one is a little more nebulous. Although you always want to be mindful about your surroundings and actions, you are in someone’s home… and they want nothing more than to make you feel comfortable. Unless you talk to them, they won’t know if you have any specific needs… so, don’t expect them to guess that you are allergic to goose-down bedding, or something.
4. Take Out The Trash/Do Some Chores- The dishes comment could also fall under this pointer, but I wanted to specifically pull it out as dishes are a thing. But, all households have chores that are constantly a grind but necessary. I know you have them in your own home, so expect them in someone elses. Everyone appreciates you taking out the trash, or rolling-in the garbage cans from the curb, or folding a load of towels. Just something to ease the day-to-day grind of chores of your host. If you are at a loss, ask. Although they will probably tell you there is nothing that needs doing, if you look hard enough, you can find something.
5. Contribute- Whether you want to pitch in for groceries, or offer to make dinner, the money you are saving on hotels and restaurants by staying with someone should give you at least a little room to contribute. Offer to buy the booze for a party, or pick up their favorite (fill in the blank). Also, it could be something as innocuous as toilet paper, or something on which you see they are running low.
6. Bring or Leave a Gift- Gifts often don’t have to be expensive… in fact, the more thoughtful, or personalized the better. Although wine is always good, if you listen to your hosts, often they will tell you just in their conversations. “Oh, I totally want to blow up this photo, but I haven’t had time…” Just like you have a thousand things to do on your list, so do they… and sometimes the simple act of going out of your way to check something off their list is all it takes. Plus, who DOESN’T love a thoughtful note?!
7. Run Interference- This one is especially true if your host has kids or animals. If the kids are little, chances are your host hasn’t had an uninterrupted moment to do anything without simultaneously tending to the kids. You have no idea how huge the simple act of going to the bathroom uninterrupted is for a mom with a baby. It’s like a mini-vacay.
8. Keep Your Stuff Tidy- Try and keep all your stuff contained in the bathroom/bedroom. People have enough trouble keeping their OWN stuff contained let alone worrying about not tripping on YOUR shoes that are out in the middle of the floor. And, bonus, by keeping all your stuff contained, when you leave, it won’t be difficult to pack!
9. Stay Out From Under Foot- If you are there for an extended period of time, it is important to give your hosts some time without you there. Just common courtesy; give both you and them a chance to breath. It is appreciated on both ends.
10. Be Aware of Your Actions- If you are going out and coming back late, just channel your inner ninja tactics. If you slamming the bathroom drawers makes the dog bark which wakes up the baby, then you aren’t doing it right. Sometimes you can’t help it and you just have to let that roll off your back, but most times, silence is golden. Though, on the other side of the coin, being TOO ninja-like is unsettling. If you are creeping up on people, it kind of freaks them out. You be the judge of your noise output!
The degree to which you follow any of these tips depends on both your manners and the attitude of your hosts. I have both broken and adhered to these guidelines depending on my host. Some of these may mean nothing to them. Some of these may mean nothing to you. But they are all things to consider if you have been invited to stay at someone’s house. If you play your cards right, you will totally be invited back and someone telling you how much they enjoyed your visit won’t be a total lie! 🙂