Be their guest

Chances are you’ve been a houseguest at least once in your life, the real question is… Where you a good houseguest? Things are a little bit different when you’re staying with family, and it might be tempting to slip back into old family dynamics, but it definitely pays to act, at least in part, like a guest.

How exactly does a good houseguest act? Well, they’re a good communicator.
This covers a whole lot of situations. From your initial planning, when you will arrive, how long you’re staying for to what you’ll do while you’re there, how much time will you spend with your hosts and what your schedules look like.  It pays to have these conversations because no matter how welcome you are, you’re still impacting their normal routines. Keeping your visit an enjoyable one is important for everyone.

What’s their schedule like?
Are they early risers? Do they stay up late? Do they have to get their kids ready for school bright and early in the morning? It’s polite to know how you can fit yourself into their routine, especially if the number of bathrooms is low and the number of people are high! And if you’re one who likes to sleep in and the family gets up early, they might not want to disturb you. For all you early risers out there, you should probably bring a book to read in bed as 99% of people surveyed think you should get out of bed at the same time or a little after your hosts.

Shoes on a blue rack, shot on a wood floor with soft light and negative space.
House rules can be as simple as taking your shoes off when you come in through the door.

Ask about house rules
Everyone has them, from removing your shoes when you come in the house, to not allowing pets up on the furniture. Having an easy conversation about what the household rules are can save your hosts’ irritation later.

Be tidy
Keeping your room (or where you’re sleeping) from looking like a bomb went off is important, especially when you’re sleeping in a communal space like the living room. Cleaning up after yourself, helping with dinner or washing up, and lending a hand with other small things around the house is a great way to show your gratitude.

No surprise guests
Your hosts invited you to stay with them if the invitation didn’t specifically include another friend, your significant other, your kids or your pet it’s best that they not show up with you at the last minute. It can be a major imposition to add extra guests not to mention stressful or awkward. Just stick to the original plan.

A women holds a small gold box with a golden bow to give to her hosts.
A gift for your hosts is a must, as is a handwritten thank you note.

Always bring a thank you gift and send a thank you note!
Giving a gift to your hosts during or after your stay is a must. Many people give a bottle of wine, gifts that fit the personality of their hosts or a regional specialty from where you’re from. If you aren’t sure what they’d like you can always get them something while you’re visiting. Or, you could take them out to dinner or pay for everyone to have a great dinner in, whichever they’d prefer.

When you get home, always send a handwritten thank you note in the mail. Sure, it’s a little thing, but it’s something that means a lot to your friends and family.

Check out our upcoming post “Be their (4-legged) guest,” for those times your favorite furry family member is an invited houseguest.