The houseguest who is invited back

I asked my Facebook friends for etiquette dilemmas or issues they wanted me to address in my next blog post. One person asked me to speak to the etiquette of being a houseguest. She asked, “What do you do with the bed linens when you’re leaving? If you’ve been there more than 3-4 days how much cleaning do you do, IE, bathroom? If you wake up early, do you get up and move around or wait for the host and vice versa?”

Great questions and a timely topic as I’m sure many of you are either visiting friends or family or are hosting them in these last days of summer.

Being a great houseguest is an art. You want to make it as easy as possible on your hosts. Here are some tips to help you be a houseguest who is invited back.

Don’t assume. First off, be sure you are actually a wanted houseguest. Be sure your hosts have the space and are available to host you. Also, never assume your children or pets are welcome. In fact, unless the hosts have invited you to bring them, don’t ask to do so.

Be helpful. It’s a lot of work to feed and entertain houseguests. Make it easier on your hosts by offering to clear the table, do the dishes, help with meals, pick someone up, etc. While you don’t need to do a deep clean of the bathroom you used, do keep towels picked up, the sink wiped down and your items put away.

On the day you are leaving, strip the bed of the linens and either take them to the washing machine or leave them bunched on the bed. Fold any blankets or comforters. Don’t forget to take the pillow cases off of the pillows.

Be thankful. Even if you dislike the food you were served or didn’t enjoy the opera your hosts took you to, thank them anyway. Find something positive to say.

Be independent. Don’t expect your hosts to entertain you every moment. Have some activities planned and bring a book or cards for those moments when your hosts are busy.

It is perfectly fine to get up and move around if you rise before your hosts. But, do keep the noise down so that you don’t wake them. If you can do it quietly, go ahead and make some coffee. Your hosts will probably appreciate having a hot cuppa joe ready for them when they get out of bed. If you tend to sleep in later than your hosts, try to change your schedule to accommodate their schedule. That said, your hosts may appreciate having a quiet half hour to themselves while they wait for you to rise.

Bring a present. Either show up with a nice gift for the hosts or purchase one while visiting. When you’re out and about, if your host seems interested in something find a way to purchase it later and present it before you leave. My Australian nieces did this when they stayed with us for a week. As we were looking at the handcrafted items at the Pike Place Market, my husband and I admired a cute tandem bike frame. The girls found a way to go back and purchase it, and on their last day, presented it with photos of the four of us.

Lastly, don’t forget to send a handwritten thank you note within 48 hours of leaving your hosts. They put a lot of time and energy into hosting you, be sure they know how much you appreciated their efforts with a nice note – a phone call or email is not enough.

What questions do you have about either being a houseguest or hosting people in your home? Have you ever had a nightmare houseguest? Are there certain things you always try to do as a houseguest?

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