How to Be a Great Houseguest

Hogging the bathroom and ignoring their schedules are things you won’t do if you ever want to be invited back  

Credit: Flickr/mink

Being a good houseguest might get you an invitation to return

There’s no quicker way to damage a friendship than to be a bad houseguest. Follow these tips to avoid that fate when you’re staying with friends

The household was in chaos. My hostess had two children to organize for school and her own work to get to after they were out the door. So I did the one thing that ensures guests a return invitation: I stayed out of the bathroom until everyone else had cleared out.

I learned this essential tactic from the best houseguest I ever had, a woman who courteously and quietly waited until everybody had finished showering and shaving. Then she’d ask if we were done before disappearing into the washroom to perform her own ablutions.

Being a great houseguest is sometimes as easy as being a good friend. But there are a few visit-specific tips to consider.

As a Houseguest You Should…

  • Provide your own food and sundries. Don’t be like one houseguest I heard about who never contributed a cent during a six-month stay, and as a capper used the batteries from the remote – without asking – when his razor ran out.
  • Thank your hosts by taking them out to dinner. If you’re short on cash, it’s perfectly acceptable to cook them a meal in their own home instead. Of course you should do all the shopping and cleaning and provide the wine.
  • Adapt to your hostess’s schedule. If she’s working all day, don’t expect her to come home and entertain you; she may be too exhausted to do more than veg out.
  • Keep yourself busy. There’s nothing worse than a guest who sits around like a bump on a log, waiting for instructions on where to go or what to do next.
  • Leave your temporary digs better than you found them. Keep your toiletries off precious bathroom counter space, carry towels back to your room, do your dishes immediately after meals and put sheets in the laundry basket before you leave.

…And When You Get Home

  • Send a thank-you note as soon as you’re home. Mention how much you liked the hostess’s home or the experiences you shared with her.
  • Offer to reciprocate should your hostess ever need a place to stay.

Find more houseguest etiquette tips.