How to Be Such an Amazing House Guest 


Whether you’re crashing with a friend for convenience, invited for a leisurely stay at a cousin’s summer home, or headed to your future in-laws’ place for the first overnight visit, house guest etiquette matters. And if you’ve ever hosted family or friends for an extended stay, you know just how refreshing a well-behaved, respectful, game, and grateful house guest is—and how exhausting a not-so-awesome one can be.

Here are 11 house guest etiquette rules to follow, no matter who you’re staying with or how long you plan to be there. (Trust us, this is how you get invited back.)

Be Clear About How Long You’re Staying

Make sure you clear the duration of you stay with your hosts as far in advance as possible—at their invitation, of course. Don’t be vague or hope to extend your stay once you arrive. Of course, there is a chance they might extend an offer, but don’t make assumptions. If your BFF says they’ll be busy after Labor Day, book your return ticket to leave a full day before so they have some time to themself. The last thing you want to do is take advantage of your host.

Don’t Show Up Unannounced

It’s never a good idea to show up without notice—or, even worse, to show up with a pet, child, significant other, or friend (even if it’s a mutual friend) in tow, unless you’ve cleared it with your host beforehand. You may call it spontaneous and fun, but your cousin and their spouse may call it inconvenient.

Bring a Thoughtful Gift

A grateful guest always brings their host a gift—a little something to show their gratitude. However, there’s no need to haul something huge or extravagant all the way there. A local treat from your hometown bakery, a beautiful coffee table book, flowers, a nice candle, or bottle of wine all work perfectly. Headed to someone’s vacation house? Get them something on theme: beach towels or a cocktail-themed gift would be perfect.

Follow House Rules

When you arrive, gently inquire about how things are done to avoid any misunderstandings. What time does everyone usually wake up and go to bed? Anything you should know about the kids or pets? Should you leave the thermostat alone? Pick up on other house rules by being in tune with your hosts. This could mean observing whether or not you should take your shoes off indoors or if you should keep your phone away from the dinner table. Also, refrain from finishing the coffee or milk (but if you do, replace it).

Act More Appropriate Than Usual

Before you walk down the hall in only a towel, curse, tell inappropriate jokes, or come downstairs for breakfast in your PJs, take cues from your host. When in doubt, err on the side of modesty. If you’re planning a dinner out with your hosts, ask what attire is appropriate for the restaurant (e.g. no jeans) so you can pack accordingly.

Be Extremely Helpful

Unhelpful guests are rarely invited back. Things you should offer to do: Help prep or cook meals; set the table and do the dishes; offer to drive; occupy the kids while their parents take a well-deserved nap; fix a little something around the house if you have the skills; or take the dog for a walk. Even if you’re turned down, the hosts will appreciate the gesture.

Things you should do without asking for a thumbs up: Clear your dishes when you’re done eating; buy some groceries and maybe the fixings for cocktails; get your own kids out of the house for an hour or two; fill up the tank if you borrow the car; strip your sheets at the end of your stay (unless you’re told otherwise).

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