When you accept someone’s hospitality, your graciousness can go a long way. As a guest in another person’s home, there are social etiquette rules to follow. We’ve asked etiquette experts what you can—and should—do to be the guest who is always invited back.
While you should certainly plan to contribute to the groceries and activities, a thoughtful hostess gift is a gesture that starts the visit off right. “It doesn’t have to be elaborate—just something that lets your host know you appreciate their hospitality,” says etiquette expert Diane Gottsman. A set of linen cocktail napkins, a gift basket sent in advance, or a box of special chocolates from your favorite bakery is a nice touch.
- Allow your host family their time and space
Your host is not responsible for your entertainment the entire time you are visiting. “Make plans, get out on your own, and avoid monopolizing your host’s schedule,” Gottsman adds.
- Clean up after yourself and your host
Speaking of little ones, children are expected to keep their area clean. “Whether they are staying in a room with one of your host’s children, with you, or their own space, give them some responsibility, depending on their age,” continues Gottsman. “Remind your child to place their dishes in the sink, make their bed, put the toilet seat down, and put away the toys or games, etc.”
Small acts like assisting with dinner, running to the grocery store, setting the table, or throwing a load of laundry in, can ease the chore-load of your host. “If you are staying at someone’s home for a few days, help with daily chores,” says Gottsman. She also encourages that teens take the trash to the curb, tidy up common areas, and sweep walkways.
Turn off the lights, reuse towels, and keep your shower brief. “Don’t assume your host will want to run a half-full dishwasher,” points out Gottsman. “Recycle and follow the host’s request when it comes to stripping the bed when you leave.”
- Don’t complain about pets
Your host’s pets are part of their family, so don’t ask them to board their pets or complain about them. “It’s not your place to ask them to restrict their furry companion to a spare room or to put them outside while you are visiting because your son is ‘afraid of cats.’ A host will most likely change their pet habits a bit, but it’s not an option to insist they send them away because you don’t like dogs,” Gottsman says.
- Leave the home how you found it
Before departing, Schweitzer advises to remove the linens from your bed, clear the bathroom of used towels and place them in the laundry room or on the washer. “Ask your host where the clean sheets and towels are kept so you may make the bed and replace used towels,” she says. “Some hosts may decline your offer, instead preferring to do it themselves, but others will be thrilled. Be sure to double-check that you haven’t left any personal items, including mobile phone chargers, so your hostess doesn’t have to mail anything back to you.”
- Don’t extend your visit except if warranted
You may think you are welcome to stay for a few more days, but your host is probably anxious to get the house back in order. “They will likely be expecting more guests; a timely departure is the right thing to do,” says Gottsman
.: Reader’s Digest
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