8 Golden Rules for Being a Good Houseguest

By Olivia Harris on September 23, 2014

One of the most exciting parts of having your own space is the opportunity to entertain. Whether you prefer a wine night with close friends, a loud party, or cooking dinner for a date, proper house guest manners are a must.

This week, my roommates and I were fortunate enough to host two friends from Germany. Felix and Jens were the most amicable house guests imaginable – from cooking, to cleaning, to being respectful and simply just hanging out with us, they were the types of guests that make hosting such a blast and taught us exactly what to expect.

Here’s a list to get you started with expectations of your own houseguests (and rules you should follow when you visit a friend’s place, too.)

 1. Relax.

Nothing is worse than a visibly uncomfortable guest. Take a deep breath and put a smile on your face. It’s natural to be slightly awkward when you inhabit someone else’s home, but a warm and inviting persona can make any interaction, no matter the location, a little bit easier. Set yourself at ease, give out some hugs, and ask where your host would like you to settle in.

2. Wear  the right shoes. 

It’s truly the worst when you walk into someone’s home and are unsure if you should take off your shoes or leave them on, so make it easy on yourself. You’ll be glad if you have to remain in a pair of comfy and chic flats or wedges for the evening, so make sure you choose comfort over beauty. Avoid the stilettos – no one wants a heel mark dug into their hardwood floors. Be respectful.

3. Offer to help. 

Coming for dinner? Bring an appetizer or dessert. Also, ask if your host needs any company in the kitchen for preparation. Even if they say no, it is best to be polite. One of the best parts about Felix and Jens visiting was that they often cooked for us. Cooking is a fun way to get to know someone, too.

4. Clean up after yourself. 

Help clear the table after a meal and wash the dishes. If you’re a guest for a few days, don’t leave your hair in the bathroom or a trail of dirty clothes in your room. This is not only house guest etiquette, but a tip you should follow wherever you stay.

5. Make your bed. 

No matter how messy a room may be, the appearance can be improved tremendously if you make your bed. It also shows that you value the space you’ve been given for the time being.

6. Bring your own supplies. 

Sure, it’s okay if you need to borrow one or two things, but don’t expect everything to be given to you. At the very least, have a toothbrush.

7. Don’t push the length of the visit. 

If you told your friend that you needed a place to crash for 5 or 6 days, do not stay a full week. Visitors are great, but everyone likes their place to themselves, and it can become exhausting when your place is packed with people. Particularly if you aren’t required to pay for your visit, do not require more of your hosts than they initially had agreed to.

8. Be grateful and say thank you. 

A thank you note and small gift is and always will be the best message on Earth. A handwritten card will show your appreciation and will be remembered – you may even get an invitation to return. It’s also a fantastic idea to leave a little housewarming gift. Felix and Jens had previously been to New York before they stopped at our place, and the sweetest gesture was the Broadway Avenue sign they left for us to hang in the kitchen.

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