"Being a houseguest - or hosting one - is an intimate experience, best enjoyed with clear expectations and healthy respect for boundaries. A sense of graciousness, flexibility, and fun goes a long way, too!" -Emily Post
Staying with friends or family can be a great way to catch up or save a few while traveling.
Here are some houseguest etiquette tips to help ensure that you will be invited back again.
Plan Ahead - Make sure you ask and confirm far in advance which dates you will be staying with your host. It's important that you are clear about your exact arrival and departure times. If you're leaving on a Sunday, make sure to book your return ticket for earlier, rather than later in the day. This will give your host some time to clean up, unwind, and get back to their routines.
Arrive With a Gift - This doesn't need to be anything extravagant, but just remember that your host spent time preparing for your arrival - so the least you can do is arrive with something special to show your gratitude. A bottle of wine or champagne is typically preferred. However, if you are unsure of your host's imbibing status, a flowering plant or homemade baked goods are always a great option.
Know the House Rules - Ask for a tour around the house and enquire about how household items work. If you know you're going to use the coffee maker in the morning, ask about it. (It wouldn't hurt to bring your own coffee as well.) The same rules apply for the shower, washer/dryer, and dishwasher.
Buy or Bring Your Own - This applies to groceries and toiletries. Your host's home is not a hotel. Be mindful of your habits - if you like to use more towels than typically offered, consider packing an extra.
Keep Clean - This goes without saying. Even if your host says "don't worry about it" you most definitely should. Your host should never have to clean up after you. Mind your Ps and Qs. Upon your departure, wipe down the bathroom, gather dirty towels, strip the bed, and return everything to its original position.
Give Thanks - Thank your host three times: When you arrive, when you're leaving, and once more after when you've gone with a thank you note. Always in send a thank you note to express your gratitude. Make sure to mention the fun you had, or the wonderful food you ate. Finish the note with an offer to host at your place sometime soon.
Houseguest Gift Ideas
- The latest best-selling book or cookbook
- Hand towels or beach towels
- Packages of cocktail napkins (upgrade: monogrammed with the host’s initials)
- Bottle of the host’s favorite wine or alcohol with an ice bucket
- Board games or jigsaw puzzles
- Monogrammed serving tray
- Two or three unusual kitchen utensils, or a set of nice nesting bowls
- For a golfer, a dozen golf balls
- Gourmet foods
- Picture frame with a picture taken during your visit (sent later)
- Candle and matchboxes
- Houseplant in a decorative pot
Make sure to check out the Waiting on Martha shop for great house guest gifts.