Tips on being a Gracious Houseguest

A good houseguest can make a pleasant addition to the family for a few days, while a bad one can cause unwelcome tension at an already busy time of year.  Agree beforehand with the host on the length of the stay, and stick to it! No one likes guests that keep pushing the deadline of leaving - back. The houseguest’s duty is to behave differently than she would at her own home. That means refraining from keeping her own schedule, helping herself to food in the refrigerator without permission, taking control of the family schedule, and so forth.

When you first arrive at your host's home, be sure to compliment them on their home or any other feature of their home that you like, such as their flower garden or beautiful decorating. Hosts usually spend a great deal of time tidying up their home in readiness for their guest's arrival. Complimenting them on their hard work will make them feel appreciated.


Gracious house guests will buy their hosts a small gift as a token of their appreciation for their generous hospitality. It can be a bottle of perfume, a bunch of flowers or some other appropriate gift. For an overnight stay a bottle of good wine is nice or a houseplant. A longer stay requires a gift that is a little more expensive. If the host has small children, it is nice to present each one with something small.  You can take a gift with you and present it as soon as you arrive or you could buy one while you are there. Or you can send one as soon as you arrive home. 
Remember that s simple design and neutral colors is a much safer choice then something loud and flashy.

While you are there you should plan on taking your hosts out to dinner for one or two evenings depending on the length of your stay. This is a very kind gesture that the hosts will appreciate. It will also give them a break from the kitchen.


Being a great houseguest and being sure to be invited back you must be sure to remember a few basic rules:

ü      Bring your own toiletries

ü      Offer to help any time you see a need

ü      Help with routine activities, (shopping, preparing a meal,entertaining the

ü      Be ready for anything and ready for nothing

ü      Tidy up after yourself

ü      Appear to enjoy yourself even if you aren’t

ü      Make sure your host has sometime alone

ü      A thoughtful guest doesn’t sit in on every conversation

ü      If you have children bring your own snacks

ü      Greet everyone equally and with a smile at all times

ü      Don’t make plans without letting your host know

ü      Don’t accept an invitation without letting your hosts know

ü      Don’t answer your hosts phone without asking

ü      Keep your showers short and the bathroom clean as if you were never there

ü      Don’t make the first move to retire at the end of the evening follow your host lead

ü       On the morning of the day you leave remove the sheets from the bed and fold them and place them at the foot of the bed. 
Pull up the blanket so it looks like the bed is made.


Overnight visits require a hand written thank you note, with-in a day or two of your return home. It is important that you take the time to hand write the note perhaps remembering a particularly fun day or an amusing story that was told. Let your host know how much you enjoyed the visit and their companionship, and offer your home to them in return.

How do you know that you have been a good houseguest? How can you really tell that the stay was a success, and the hosts will be glad to open their home to you again? The ultimate compliment in being a houseguest is to be invited for another stay. Though the hosts may have gone to great lengths (and expense) to you feel welcome, you should also go to great lengths to show gratitude, return the favor, and make the host feel just as comfortable as if they were there alone.

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"Manners are a sensitive awareness of others.  if you have that awareness, you have good manners, no matter what fork you use."

-Emily Post

American author on etiquette

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