in: Character, Etiquette, Featured

• Last updated: September 25, 2021

How to be the Perfect Houseguest

Vintage man packing suitcase with wife.

Image by George Marks

Next week is Thanksgiving and with it comes the arrival of the holiday season. Many of you will be traveling to see family and friends this time of year. Staying with loved ones can be a great time, and everyone loves free lodging. But you must always remember that hospitality is a gift, one that should be accepted graciously. Here’s how to show your gratitude and make your stay a welcome and pleasant one this holiday season, or any time of the year.

1. Send money for groceries. If your host will be paying for your food while you stay, send a check ahead of your visit to cover the cost of groceries and the other incidentals involved in entertaining and hosting you. If you wait to offer dough until you are there, your host will inevitably turn down the offer out of politeness. So just mail a check before your trip with a note about how excited you are to be coming. If your visit will be short, take your host out to dinner and pay for the meal instead.

2. Show up on time. If you tell your host that you’re going to come in on Wednesday morning, show up at that time. If you’re running late, make sure to call ahead and update your host on when you’ll be arriving.

3. Bring a gift. To show your appreciation for the free lodging, bring a gift. It doesn’t have to be big or expensive. Baked goods, flowers, bottles of wine, or unique gifts from your home state are always appreciated.

4. Keep your area neat. Before you leave each day, make sure to make the bed and straighten up your room. Put your dishes in the dishwasher after you use them.

5. Pitch in with the chores around the house. Always be willing to help around the house. Help prepare the meals, wash the dishes, and take out the trash. A gracious host will never directly ask you to help, so just get in there and start lending a hand.

6. Let your presence interfere as little as possible with your friend’s normal routine, household duties, and career. You friend may of course wish to take time out to hang with you, but you should never be the one to impose on their time. Do your best to conform your routine to the routine of the household, as to not get in the way or create an imposition.

7. Disclose your schedule. Let your host know your schedule every day and do all you can to stick to it. This will help your host plan when to serve meals and how late they need to stay up.

8. Do not ignore your friend altogether. If you friend lives in a “destination” city and the purpose of your trip is both to visit with your friend and to see the sights, you should not entirely eschew the former to pursue the latter. No one wants to feel like you are simply using them as a hostel. Do your sightseeing when your friend is at work, plan activities together for when they are not, and invite your host on your excursions.

9. Come with some ideas about what you want to do and see. While your friend will surely have many things they wish to do with you, they should not be expected to entertain you all day long.

10. Even if you don’t find all the activities your host plans for you enjoyable, keep your disappointment to yourself. Part of visiting a friend is accompanying them on excursions that they enjoy. Your friend is working hard to entertain you, let them know you appreciate their efforts.

11. Don’t criticize your host’s hometown. If you are say, a proud New Yorker paying a visit to your country cousin in Omaha, do not go on and on in unfavorably comparing their city to the Big Apple. Most people are proud of their hometown; be generous in your compliments of it.

12. Always ask. Remember, you’re a guest. Even if someone tells you to make yourself at home, still ask before you start using things. It’s just polite.

13. Don’t overstay your visit. Try to keep your stay shorter than three days. Your host has things to do and they can’t put their life on hold forever.

14. Strip the bed before your leave. Your host will likely wash the bed linens after you leave. Help make their job easier by stripping your bed before you depart.

15. Write a thank you note. Showing true hospitality is one of the greatest kindnesses a friend can bestow. Be sure to express your gratitude to them be sending a note of thanks soon after your trip.

Have any more tips on being a good houseguest? Let us know in the comments.

Tomorrow: How to be the perfect host.

Related Posts