Girlfriend tells me that last holiday season she had the house guest from hell. Ok, maybe that’s an exaggeration. But as she described it, her house guest was a bit inconsiderate. So the holidays are coming and she’s anticipating more company. Maybe you are, too. Or maybe you’re going away and like us, will be house guests this season. (By the time you read this we will be house guests.) I asked girlfriend the other day, how can house guests avoid annoying their hosts? She had a lot to say, but here’s the gist of her “how to be a good house guest.”
1) You may be a last minute decision maker, but your host may not be. It’s only good manners to set up the visit well in advance so your host can make their own plans. Don’t hold them hostage to yours. Be clear about when you’d like to arrive and when you’d like to leave. “Like” is the pertinent word–your desires may not coordinate with theirs and since they are hosting you need to defer to them.
2) Let me be blunt: If you are at someone’s house for vacation –or any reason, really–remember that their hospitality is saving you at least $200 a night in most places. Surely you can afford to spring for a dinner for the family once during your several-day stay. Even if you did bring a nice set of soaps as a hostess gift. Dinner doesn’t have to be expensive. It just needs to be bought.
3) And speaking of hostess gifts, know your hostess’ taste because not every hostess gift is enjoyed. Like some soaps. Many people don’t use soaps in their guest bathrooms. Like me. I put out the much more sanitary pumps. I also don’t like floral aromas so floral soaps I get are likely to be given to someone else. And usually, hostess gifts are only useful to the woman of the house, while dinner? The man can enjoy, too.
4) When people come to visit me I usually take them all around the Bay area, sometimes driving more than 1,000 miles while they are here. I’m proud of where I live and love to share it. Girlfriend lives in another part of the state and also carted her guests all over, for a week. She was glad to do it. But. Remember, your host has been these places dozens of times. They’re making a good time for YOU. It’s always so nice when a guest offers to buy a tank of gas to participate. Or buys lunch. Just saying.
5) Your hosts’ bedroom is sacrosanct. Do not knock and walk in as if you own the place. They do not want to be seen in their thong or en deshabille.
6) Pitch in if it’s wanted; don’t if it isn’t. I’m one of those people who doesn’t like people in my kitchen. I don’t want you to wash dishes and I don’t mind putting out your plates, making your coffee, setting the table, putting out a meal. For some reason I find it intrusive to have people knocking around in my cabinets and kitchen. I know others don’t feel that way–they’d rather you fended for yourself. Not at my house. I am happy to take care of these things. Bottom line: Ask your host’s preference.
So there you have it. A few tips for being a good holiday house guest. And if you’ve got some tips of your own? I’d love you to share them in the Comments section.