When staying away from home, and for whatever occasion, there are ways to behave to be the perfect house guest. It is a privilege to be invited to share someone’s home – even if you are best of friends or close family. The 19th Century American Novelist E.W. Howe once said “To be an ideal guest – stay at home,” but how miserable is that? Staying in someone else’s home can be a very happy and enjoyable experience, especially if you know how to be the perfect house guest.
1. Be Convenient and Flexible
The first tenet of being the perfect house guest is to make sure that you are going to be there when your host wants you. Make sure that you are flexible with dates and times; a host may not want to tell you that you cannot come, so let them choose the dates and times. The more flexible you can be, the more your host will be happy to have you!
2. What Can You Bring?
If you are attending a dinner party, can you bring food or wine? It may be a nice idea to contribute a small part to the meal, such as bringing freshly baked bread to go with the starter of soup, or else you could bring a whole course such as dessert. Even if your hosts tell you not to bother with bringing anything, make sure that you at least have a small gift.
3. Help to Clean up
Additional people in a household, regardless of how long they are there, will disrupt the routine. To help out, clean the bathroom after you have used it; help to dry the plates, or clear away the table setting. The ideal house guest will not wait until they are asked; they will help of their own accord.
4. Are Your Plans Clear?
The worst thing you can do is expect something of your host which they are not expecting to provide. Will you require transport from your host? Do they know how long you wish to stay with them? What about accommodation? However it is a two-way street – if you really want to be a good house guest, you must make sure that you understand what they will require of you too. Is there a bathroom schedule which needs adhering to? Would they like you to cook a meal? Make sure that everyone knows where they stand.
Having a guest stay, even if just for a few days, can be a strain on a household’s economic situation. Even if you are not being provided with meals throughout the duration of your stay, your hosts will still be paying for more electricity, water and gas because you are with them. Even the small things, such as washing powder and toilet paper, are going to increase with additional guests. Be mindful of this; the perfect house guest does not play profligate in someone else’s home.
6. A Tidy Room
Washing bedding is a tiresome task; if you strip the bedding off of your bed before you leave (and tidy your room), you will save your hosts one extra job. It may seem like a small task, but it will definitely be appreciated.
7. Be Mindful of Opinions
Unless you are asked to contribute to a discussion, try and stay away from becoming part of something which may upset the household. If your hosts are arguing with each other, give them some space – it is a natural part of everyday life, after all. If you are asked to give an opinion, do it sparingly; taking sides in an argument or simply saying something which your host does not appreciate will only cause more tension in the household. The good house guest will know when to speak up and when to stay quiet.
8. Do Not Overstay Your Welcome
If you want to be the absolute perfect house guest, make sure that you do not overstay your welcome. It’s hard to ask guests to leave, so do not put your hosts in a position where they feel you have been there too long. How long you are staying for should have been established before you arrived, but if not, make sure there is an open dialogue about the duration of your stay. If they have to ask you when you are leaving, or ask you to leave, then you have definitely been there too long.
9. Say Thank You
Don’t forget to express your thanks on leaving. It is also a nice touch to get in touch once you arrive back home – just to say you have arrived safely and to once again show your gratitude. It’s kind of expected that you say goodbye and thank you at the door, but a text or email, or even a thank you card, a couple of days later, saying how much you enjoyed your visit, is a special touch.
It does seem a little old fashioned to be reminding ourselves of good behaviour, but the etiquette of being the perfect house guest will never go out of style. If you’re a good house guest, you are also likely to be a good host, and who wouldn’t want a warm a welcoming home? Are you the perfect house guest or do you give your hosts merry hell?