The 2013 Holiday Season will be here in less than two weeks, are you ready? I have written on the virtues of being a good host - here and here - but so far have failed to mention what it takes to be the perfect house guest. Being a gracious house guest is easy when simple courtesies are observed. When friends invite you and your family into their home, your responsibility as a good house guest is to make it as easy as possible on your genial host. Remember you are not checking into a luxury hotel, however lovely the accommodations may be! Whether overnight or for a longer visit, show your gratitude for the hospitality by following a few house guest etiquette tips:
Share your travel plans early. Contact your host prior to finalizing travel plans to be sure there are no conflicts with the hosts schedule. Confirm arrival and departure time and also advise if you will need a ride or assistance. Make sure that you don't stay too long. You should depart at the time you originally planned and not extend your stay - unless it's due to unforeseen circumstances.
Leave your pets at home. Don't ask to bring your pets along, unless you are VERY close friends with your host. Even then, if your pet is unruly, rough on furniture, or unaccustomed to children, check your pet into a doggy hotel. It's just better all around.
Be neat. Keep your guest room neat and make up the bed daily. If you are sleeping in a common area and not in a guest room, remove your sheets daily and put them away. In addition clean up the bathroom after using it, include washing out the sink, picking up towels and putting away any toiletries. If sharing a bathroom with other guests or your host, don't hog the bathroom by taking a leisurely bath or use up all of the hot water by taking a long shower.
Chip in with chores. Don't wait for your host to ask for your help. Neither should your offer be open ended, "Let me know if you need any help." Make a specific offer such as, "Let me wash the breakfast dishes." Unless your host responds with a firm 'no' to your offer, you should do what you can to help out - especially during the holidays.
Don't overuse your cellphone, iPad/Pod or other smart technology. In today's age it's hard to truly 'get away' from all forms of communication and interaction. While visiting in someone's home be respectful of the time you use connected to the outside world. Don't forget they invited you for a visit.
Participate in planned activities. If your host has planned a day of shopping, an evening of cruising the local Christmas lights or a simple game of Monopoly, go along for the ride and enjoy yourself. If on the other hand your host is chilling out at home for the day, by all means go with the flow.
Discuss additional plans in advance with your host. If you want to attend the theater or visit other friends in the area, you should discuss these plans with your host. Find out the best times to coordinate those activities. Do not make plans or accept plans for you or your host without asking first.
Follow the schedule of your host. Typically your host will dictate the time to go to bed and what time to get up. If possible, try to adhere to that schedule. If not, keep your voice down in the evening and the television low, especially in the morning.
Bring a small hostess gift. When staying in someone's home it's always a nice touch and much appreciated gesture to bring your host a gift. Something simple is best, such as: the latest best seller, a small floral arrangement, a box of good chocolates, a set of personalized note cards, a good mixture of dried herbs, good candles, a box of fine tea, infused vinegar, French milled soaps, pretty picture frame, Christmas CD, etc.
Straighten up before you leave. Before you leave, remove your sheets from the bed, fold them and leave them at the end of the bed. Also, ask your host what you should do with your used towels.
Send a hand written thank you. In addition to thanking your host in person when you say goodbye, send a thank you card once you return home. Make sure not to wait too long, it should be sent within a few days after returning home.
Use your common sense for the rest:
Don't smoke in the house.
Don't get black mascara all over the good wash clothes.
Do have your phone charger with you.
Do push in your chair and re-stack the magazines.
Don't be in a bad mood or argue with your spouse.
Do encourage good conversation.
Don't complain about the bed, the room or the food.
Do be appreciative & have a good time!
~THE DOMESTIC CURATOR~