Recently I wrote about how to get your home organized so that when house guests arrive you can enjoy them. I’m following that post up with 7 tips on how to be a good house guest. When you are staying in someone else’s house it is different from staying in a hotel where you can set yourself up the way you want to.
Some things to think about
In someone else’s home everyone may be sharing one or two bathrooms. You may be traveling up or downstairs to get to the bathroom. Remember to pack pjs.
The place you are sleeping may also be a bonus room or family room turned into a bedroom for you temporarily. Where do you put your clothes and toiletries?
Then again, you may have an ensuite bathroom in a dedicated guest room with a closet just for you and your accessories as you would (or maybe even better than) in a hotel.
Sometimes you know what to expect because you have either stayed with this family before or your host has given you the details of where you will stay in their home in advance.
When I visit my son and his wife in Seattle, I know I have a lovely room with an adjacent (just outside the room) bathroom that is shared with the family.
I’m planning to visit my other son in Nevada in July. He has just moved into a new home, so I have no idea what to expect other than he says he has a place for me to stay.
And then there are meals. If you are an early riser, do you just march into the kitchen, make the coffee, and help yourself to whatever is there? Let your host know in advance of any food allergies you or someone in your family may have so that they don’t inadvertently serve those ingredients.
There is an art to being a good house guest. There are small things you can do so that your host will love having you stay and will be invited to return.
7 Tips for How to Be a Good House Guest
Bring a small gift for your host
There’s no need to go overboard with a hugely expensive gift. If you like to bake, consider bringing cookies or a dessert if that’s practical. Ask yourself what your host may appreciate. Are they a wine lover? Perhaps either bring or send them a bottle of wine. Think of a small gift which won’t add to clutter (a consumable) that they might enjoy.
Have a small tote for your toiletries
Bring your toiletries to and from the bathroom. Leaving shampoo and conditioner in the shower just adds clutter when you are sharing a bathroom. Respect their space by removing things that belong to you from the bathroom as you leave it. Doing this will also keep your belongings near your suitcase so you won’t leave anything behind.
Unpack your bag
Unpack your bag even if there is no closet or no chest of drawers available to you. Make small, neat piles of your things to keep the room looking tidy. An added benefit is that your clothes won’t become wrinkled, and you will easily find what you are looking for. It’s so much easier to look through a small, neat pile of clothes than to dig through your suitcase.
Keep track of your things
Be sure to keep track of your things. If you are reading a hard copy book in the living room, bring it back to the room you are using at the end of the day. You don’t want to leave something behind and then have to ask your host to send it to you.
Offer to help
Offer to lend a hand in the kitchen, in the yard, or wherever you think a little help may be appreciated. However, if the host says ‘thanks but I’ve got it’ don’t insist on helping. Some people would really prefer to do things themselves. All you can do is make the offer. It may be accepted, or it may not be. Either way, your host will appreciate that you made the offer.
Strip your bed, fold your towels
Strip your bed and neatly fold your towels before you leave to go home. Your host will have work to do to clean up from your stay. Doing this chore for them is always welcome.
Write a thank you note
Take a few minutes when you get home to write a Thank You Note. It doesn’t have to be long. It can be very short and sweet. All you do is thank your host for allowing you to stay with them. Follow that up with a compliment about their home, a meal, or an event you attended with them. Put the note in an envelope, add postage, the address, and then mail it. Writing a thank you note is a small but thoughtful gesture acknowledging your host’s hospitality.
Some people automatically know how to be a good house guest. If you are not one of those people use these 7 tips to help you make your stay as enjoyable for your host as it is for you.
Are you planning a visit to a friend’s house? Would you like some help planning your visit? Jonda Beattie and I run a clutter support group called Clear Space for You. We have new groups starting in July and would love to help you plan your summer vacation.
Diane N. Quintana is a Certified Professional Organizer® ,a Certified Professional Organizer in Chronic Disorganization®, Master Trainer and owner of DNQ Solutions, LLC and co-owner of Release●Repurpose●Reorganize, LLC based in Atlanta, Georgia.
These are excellent tips for how to be a great guest. As someone who has hosted many people, I appreciate all of the things you mentioned. Another thing a guest can do is to offer to make a meal or take the host out to dinner, lunch, or breakfast.
When I’m staying in someone’s home, I try to group my things together so I don’t forget things or make a mess in my host’s home. You mentioned that too about keeping your things in your ‘own’ space. When we’re in our own homes we have systems for our stuff. But when we’re away, we have to create temporary ‘mini systems’ to keep track of things.
Your point about offering to help, but not insisting also great. Some hosts don’t want their guests to do anything. So it’s important to be sensitive to their wishes.
I love that you mentioned keeping track of their things. It is frustrating when you have to mail something to someone you will not see for a while. Thanks for sharing these tips.
I love that you mention stripping the bed. It is worth asking your host if they would like you to do this. Making the bed all the way up may just create more work for your host, who then has to take it apart to get to the sheets. I also think if you have any very specific food needs, consider bringing what you need. At a minimum, let your host know of any food allergies so they don’t go to a lot of work making a meal that you cannot eat.
These are great tips! I have to admit I was never “taught” these things, and have learned through experience. I’ll definitely be passing these on to my kids!
These are the superb tips that used to be taught as a matter of course as the pathway to becoming a grownup, but somewhere in the past 30 years, a generation seems to have lost a step.
There’s a school of thought that talks about being part of “Ask” vs. “Guess” culture; I come from a firmly “Ask” background, and when I arrive as a guest, I start asking specifics: Is this is shoe-on or shoe-off house? Am I expected to take any actions regarding the animals (like being careful to leave a light on in the room with the little box)? From which cabinet is it safe to get a water glass? If I’m super-hot overnight, is there a fan? Can I adjust the A/C? Even the best of folks entertaining guests don’t anticipate all the possible questions because they’re so used to how their home works. (I once stayed with friends and got a severe dressing down from their 6yo for drinking a diet Coke I had brought because these were verboten in the house. The parents were mortified that their child was bossing me around, and made it clear that it was a child-specific rule, but I loved that she felt free to speak her mind; I’d have been miserable if anyone in a house where I was a guest felt it necessary to put on “company” manners, because I don’t want to feel like company!)