How to Be a Good Houseguest

31 Oct

Well, we’re staring down the barrel of November, folks. That means that in what will seem to only be a few short days, we will fly through the holidays season with every moment full of angst, hurriedness, and guilt. I’m so looking forward to it, arent you? So allow me to address a holiday matter before the holidays are truly upon us: How to be a good houseguest.

Being a good houseguest is a crucial skill. Not only do you want to ensure you have a place to stay when you’re away from home so you don’t spend your holidays in a hotel, but you would also like to not completely ruin your relationship with the host. And having had a plethora of folks shack up at my place, I am deeming myself an authority on the matter. Heed my words, oh wonderful and knowledge-seeking followers.

How to Be a Good Houseguest

1) Leave it how you found it.  Doesn’t that seem simple? But that means everything. It means making the bed to the best of your ability before you leave. It means cleaning up after yourself when you put your feet up and have a snack somewhere in the house. It means that if you use their towels or washcloths or anything else they offered you that you give them back at the end of the run and even offer to throw them in the washing machine.

2)  Be gracious for everything.  If they make you food or offer you a drink or got a different kind of bath soap because they know you are allergic to theirs or whatever they may do to make you feel at home, be gracious. That includes eating whatever they are kind enough to make and saying thank you for it.  Hey, if you dont like it you can sneak out on the town and eat something else. Or pack granola bars for such an emergency.

3) Offer to help.  With anything –  dinner, cleaning, whatever.  If there are dishes to be done and some of them have been dirtied by you, help.  Insist on it. Because no matter what the host says, they’re completely and utterly thankful for the helping hand. After all, they’d rather be spending time with everyone than spending all their time cleaning up after them.

4) Maintain. Sure, you were given a guest room for the duration of your stay, but that room is still part of a house that is not yours. So while you should feel free to make yourself at home you should not feel free to live like a complete slob in that room until your departure.

5) Enjoy yourself.  I know all this seems like a lot of fuss and trouble but it’s really not.  Essentially just offer to help here and there and clean up after yourself. Easy peasy.  Remember: above all the host just wants you to enjoy yourself. So kick back, relax, make yourself feel at home (so long as your home is not a nest of digustingness) and enjoy the stay.
And a sidenote for good measure: If you can’t commit to doing any of the above, you should stay at a hotel.  Because there, people are paid to clean up after you, you don’t have to be grateful for it, and regardless of how you live in the room they provide you, you are always welcome to come back again.

Happy holiday season folks. May all our relationships stay in tact.


10 Responses to “How to Be a Good Houseguest”

  1. Bridgesburning Chris King October 31, 2011 at 1:28 pm #

    Perfectly well timed advice! Makes everyone’s holiday a little nicer!


    • Jackie November 2, 2011 at 9:32 pm #

      Let’s hope! 🙂 Thanks!


  2. Jessica@plz&thx October 31, 2011 at 1:59 pm #

    Well said! I especially like #3, as it’s my favorite indicator of a good houseguest. I even take the sheets off the bed when staying with friends…one less thing they have to worry about. #1 could also include logging out of your Facebook or email accounts when using the host’s computer. 🙂


    • Jackie November 2, 2011 at 9:31 pm #

      Gah! I thought after posting that I should have made mention of the thank you note, which is a powerful way to cap off an experience (and an opportunity to offer amends for potentially bad ones). Good note about logging off as well. I let an acquaintance use my computer a few weeks ago and was thoroughly annoyed that when he was given access it was off and when he left it there it was running and with all windows open he used (including a music player).


  3. pegoleg October 31, 2011 at 2:15 pm #

    This is great advice! Except about making the bed – I ask if they want me to make it up or strip it. Some people always change the sheets after company. I recently had an experience that has moved me into the “always change” category.

    I was a house guest and when I went to bed and pulled back the covers, the sheets and pillowcases were liberally sprinkled with black hairs. Not covered like a rug, but to the point where I couldn’t bring myself to even get in. I’m not sure if they let their cats sleep there, or if the last guest was particularly hairy. I looked all over the room for spare cases, but no luck. I slept on top of the top sheet, and found the least offensive side of the 4 pillows on the bed. Yuck!


    • Jackie November 2, 2011 at 9:28 pm #

      This is a good amendment – I always worry about leaving a ‘to-do’ for them so I choose to make it look nice until they can get to it; but you’re absolutely right. Asking would be far superior, especially in light of that disgusting nugget you shared.


  4. wordsweneversaid October 31, 2011 at 4:34 pm #

    If I wasn’t terrified of bed bugs I would opt for a hotel every time.

    I circumvent these difficulties by NOT visiting.

    Yes – Im’a hermit – ( hear me roar from the privacy of my own inner sanctum)

    Funny that I am actually a caring and conscientious hostess when duty calls – it’s just that I am so unused to entertaining that I find it more terrifying than hell itself.

    Sad – but now the world knows – it’s true…



  5. thesinglecell November 1, 2011 at 10:34 am #

    100% agree… and agree with Peg vis-a-vis stripping the bed at the end of the visit. I ask, and then if I strip it, I make the bed sans sheets so the room looks put together in case someone wanders through before sheets get replaced. Thank God my parents raised me well. You, Miss Jackie, will obviously always have a door open to you!


    • Jackie November 2, 2011 at 9:24 pm #

      That’s the concern – stripping the sheets and then leaving this pile of a “to do” to glare them in the face. But yes, asking would prevent any problems!


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