12 Most Thankful Tips For Being An A+ Guest
Holidays, both religious and secular, are the perfect time to reconnect with friends and family who live far away.
That means come the holiday season, chances are quite high that you will either be a guest or you will entertaining guests. Both possibilities are ones fraught with potential land mines.
As E. W. Howe said “To be an ideal guest, stay at home.”
There’s a reason that there are more than enough quotes and anecdotes about house guests to fill a book. Staying with someone requires a delicate dance of consideration and understanding that leaves both the guest and the host feeling comfortable and happy.
If you happen to find yourself as a guest this Thanksgiving, or at any other time, here are some tips that your host will be really thankful you read.
1. Check what visiting dates are most convenient for your hosts
Being a good guest starts way before you arrive.
If at all possible, check with your hosts before you book your vacation time and travel arrangements. Make sure to ask them whether there are any dates that are more convenient for them and whether they have a preferred arrival time. (Morning, afternoon, night.)
2. Make sure you are on the same page
Once again, being a good guest starts before you arrive.
Do you expect them to pick you up from the airport? (If so, make sure you ask them if it’s possible and not just assume they will. )
Discuss your trip and plans with your host. See if they expect you to be around for certain things (like helping to set up the holiday meal) or if they prefer that you weren’t around. If there are any plans you have that might not include them, let them know what they are and ask if that’s okay.
3. Ask what you can bring and/or contribute
Remember you are not going to a hotel. Offer to bring something or contribute in some other way.
Even if they insist they don’t need anything, do show up with at least a symbolic gift.
4. Clean up after yourself
Chances are that having extra people in the house is already a bit of a strain on the regular rhythm of the household. Don’t add to the difficulty by leaving a mess wherever you go. If you use the bathroom, make sure you leave it the way you found it. (Or even cleaner.) If you eat something and use dishes, make sure you wash them and put them away.
5. Ask what you can do to help
Make it clear to your hosts that helping out is your pleasure and not a burden. Some hosts will feel hesitant to let you help because they don’t want to impose on you.
If you have asked a few times and have been told no thanks, ask if they are sure because it would really be your pleasure to give a hand. If the answer is still no, respect that and back off.
6. Don’t offer your opinion unless asked
Sometimes when you are a bit removed from a situation, you see things differently and sometimes even more clearly. You might have an insight as to why one of your host’s children are misbehaving or how something might be organized a lot smarter.
Do not offer your opinion unless you are asked and even then sparingly. Just because someone asks what you think, does not really mean they want to hear your answer.
7. Don’t expect to be fed and served
Some hosts might truly be happy to feed, serve and spoil you. Others might do it because they feel they have to but feel burdened by it.
Let your hosts know you don’t expect them to have to take care of you.
8. Be respectful of your hosts’ economic situation
Having guests staying with you is an expense. Even without meals there is more water, more toilet paper, more laundry and more electricity being used. For some hosts, even a few added dollars can be a strain on the monthly budget. Be aware of your hosts financial situation and try not to be a burden.
If the situation won’t embarrass your hosts you can offer to pay for some of the shopping bill or contribute some other way.
9. Respect your hosts and their home
For example, if your host is a clean freak then make sure you watch yourself and your kids. (Back in the days when I was a neat freak, I think I almost had a heart attack by kids walking around my house with food.) Be respectful of noise levels, bathroom routines and mealtime routines.
In short, respect the house rules and don’t take over the house.
10. Strip your bed
Don’t leave extra work for your hosts. Make sure you strip your beds and straighten up before you leave.
11. Don’t overstay your welcome
“Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days.” ~ Benjamin Franklin
Okay, so I don’t know if three days is the magic number, but do give some thought to how long you can stay as a guest in someone’s house before you have overstayed your welcome. It obviously depends on the guest, the host and the relationship between the two.
12. Make sure you say a heartfelt thanks
A heartfelt thanks is not given at the last moment. It is saying thank you and how much you appreciate the hospitality at least a few times during your stay. Point out reasons why your stay was comfortable and enjoyable. Don’t forget to offer to reciprocate as well.
Another nice touch is to leave behind a thank you card and maybe even a small parting gift.
Remember that when you are a guest, it’s great to feel comfortable but in the end, it’s not your house. Even when you are staying with people you are really close with, the normal equilibrium is unbalanced. Be respectful of that and of people living in the house.
While these tips were meant for guests who are sleeping over, many can be used by people who are only being hosted for a meal or an evening.
What tips do you have for being a great guest? Or entertain me with your guest horror stories so that we can all learn from your misfortune.
Featured image courtesy of tillwe via Creative Commons.