The Etiquette for a Good Host and a Good House Guest

Being a good host or a good houseguest requires some etiquette to make the experience cordial and worthy of remembering. But, things do not always go as planned, schedules may conflict, and manners can sometimes be forgotten. Whether you’re the host or guest, there are certain things that must be kept within boundaries, and certainly there are times when some extra steps will not hurt to make the visit more memorable.

As a host, you have the responsibility to make your guest or guests feel at home, attend to their comfort, and make their stay as pleasant as possible. However, it becomes another thing when your guests extend their stay and abuse your welcome. Here’s what you can do for them to get the hint that they need to pack their bags and go home.

Set a schedule. Letting guests know up to when or where they can impose on your hospitality is the key to prevent overstaying. When they announce they’re coming for a visit, let them know right away how long you can accommodate them in your home. Be clear and direct in saying the specific length of time you’re willing to have them stay. You may say you love to have them stay with you for three days, or the house is available until Friday because you need to attend to something else. That will immediately set the boundaries to put your guests in proper time frame.

Be firm. Guests may actually overstay once they feel comfortable sitting on your couch, or dining on your table. If they actually stay longer as planned, let them know the visit has reached its end and it’s time for them to go so that you can reclaim normalcy. You can thank them for the great time and say you can always keep in touch, or hope to see them again some other time.

Make subtle hints. Try the traditional ways of making hints politely by yawning, looking at time more frequent than necessary, or saying you’re tired and you want to rest already.

Celebrate after the guests had left. Gather the family to honor everyone for being wonderful, cooperative, and empowering. You may have funny tales to tell, and of course, share those little tactics to make the guests they’re not welcome anymore.

On the other hand, guests have also the responsibility to behave in a manner that is not too imposing to the host. Being a guest does not mean you can have your way around the house. Here are some tips on how to be a good houseguest and earn the respect of your host so that you get invited again many times over in the future.

Inform the host of your itinerary. It will be convenient for the host to know the exact schedule of your arrival and departure. This will allow them to fix their own schedule around yours so that you can spend wonderful time together or on your own, depending on your preference.

Be specific if you’re with company. Don’t expect the host to be amused upon seeing your whole family in tow when you said you’re visiting alone. Etiquette demands that you need to tell the host how many people are coming over so that he or she knows exactly whom to make preparations for.

Observe time. The host expects you to follow the original itinerary thus a premature arrival or an extended departure can affect everyone’s calendar. If there are changes in your program that require you to arrive early or spend more days than planned make sure to notify the host in advance to avoid inconvenience on everyone’s timetable. No matter how hospitable the host is, a change in plan is simply unbearable especially if it will greatly affect his own schedule.

Pack enough belongings and keep them in order. Don’t try to bring excessive amount of clothes that can immediately warn the host you’re staying longer than what has been agreed upon. Keep your things neat and contained within the room reserved for you. Maintain the room as neat and orderly at all times, especially when you go out and when you finally leave at the end of your stay.

Offer to do some housework and respect the house rules. Your host may not allow you to do chores, but offer anyway. It’s a nice gesture to dispel the host’s impression that you have the tendency to impose. Observe the rules even if you find them different from what you have at home. For example, you may be uncomfortable taking off your shoes before entering the house. But, if that’s a policy, you have to abide and expose some toes.

Bring a gift and send a thank-you note. Give a small gift from home which your host will appreciate. It doesn’t have to be expensive or intricate, just something to show that you’re already grateful for being welcome to stay in your host’s home. Observe the host’s taste and lifestyle, and make sure to include something to add when you do your shopping. Don’t forget to send a thank-you note within a week after leaving.

These small gestures of thoughtfulness are larger-than-life acts that can foster stronger relationship between you and your generous host.