What’s the update on houseguest etiquette? The dos and don’t of being a good houseguest — and host — these days?
–J.P., Greenwich, CT
What’s the update on houseguest etiquette?
The best houseguest doesn’t make his bed before asking his host How should I leave the bed? Nobody wants to sleep in your once delightfully dewey sexually scented sheets. Take them off, take them all off, then loosely fold them and either leave them at the foot of your unmade bed or deposit them into the laundry basket.
Especially if you have children in tow, empty your wastebaskets of any soiled diapers, sticky popsicle wrappings, and you used dental floss, etc.
The exception here is when the houseguest(s) are either family or invalided in some capacity.
The host gift/present isn’t your most important responsibility. Making the cleanup after your departure not torturous for your host is key for continuing the relationship.
Showing up at the door with anything more than a smug expression and hug isn’t necessary, if you’re determined to pitch in and make yourself useful – or at the very least amusing.
Arriving with a book, game, flowers, chocolates, cheese, or a bottle of wine is expected, but you can get away with being a houseguest extraordinaire by pitching in with anything from cooking, weeding, resetting a laptop, walking the dog, taking out the garbage, or simply emptying the dishwasher or setting the table.
The best thing you can say is not, “Thank you for inviting me,” but “Let me know what I can do to help,” and then make suggestions …
Invite your host(s) out to at least one of the following: breakfast, lunch, dinner, or drinks at their local pub. Or offer to have pizza delivered.
Most important, before you arrive, communicate with your host about your arrival and departure timeframe so your host can make plans. At that time ask, “Is there anything I can bring that you don’t have locally, such as ………?”
Part of that conversation should include a question about whether or not you can bring your beloved dog or cat. And if not, find a recommendation for a respected kennel nearby.
Are you bringing a child who will need a babysitter or childcare while you’re visiting? Then the information to set that up should be put in motion before you arrive.
When a guest has dietary concerns meaning you cannot eat certain foods such as nuts, gluten, dairy, meat, or shellfish, these restrictions should be only casually mentioned.
Don’t make a big deal of your stipulations, because you want to fit in by being a self-sustaining guest – not a needy one. If, unbeknownst to you, your host is planning a lobster bake, he needs to be forewarned to provide you with an delicious alternative.
Another question to your host when you’re finding out what’s in store for you on your visit is dress code. Are there any dress code restrictions: jacket & tie, jackets & dresses, no jeans, no ties, etc. Will you need all white attire to play tennis? Can you rent golf clubs, a bike, surfboard, or kayak?
You would no more bring an unannounced date with you than leave your room untidy. No wet towels or bathmat left in a heap on the floor creating mildew, because you’ve loosely folded them and left them with your sheets and pillow cases.
Remember that your host is not the owner of a B&B. Even if you’re family, your family wants to be respected – so spend quality time with them. Ask your hosts to join you on one of your walks, or invite them to share a meal with your friends, whom you may also be seeing.
A good guest should make sure to give his hosts some time off while he’s visiting. Invent a trip or an errand, anything that will give your hosts a chance to catch their breath.
A seasoned host knows to stock a guest’s bathroom with a couple of new toothbrushes, fresh toothpaste and soap, shampoo, a hairdryer, shower cap, and comb. Sunscreen, deodorant, body lotions and potions, over-the-counter pain reliever, tissues and bottled water are always an added consideration. An extra towel and pillow are most certainly appreciated.
When you get home, send a grateful recap in your medium whether it is a text, email, or thank-you note: “You made my summer, thank you very much for a wonderful weekend of memories.” Mention the flowers thoughtfully placed on your night table, along with books you’ve been trying to find time to read.
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Accepting A Compliment