For the most part, my family loves having friends and family visit and stay at our home. Whether they are visiting as part of their vacation or are spending time with us as an invited guest for a special holiday, having guests over creates a wonderful memory. Likewise, we love staying at the home of friends and relatives when we travel because it gives us a chance to enjoy their cozy abode and truly catch up more intimately than if we were to visit over dinner or a movie.
But there's a distinct line you cross between being a welcomed guest and one you cannot wait to shut the door to. With the winter holidays just around the corner, here are a few reminders on what makes the perfect house guest. If you're going to be staying with friends or relatives be sure to review these rules for being the perfect house guest so you'll be warmly invited back. Perhaps you can send these out to your upcoming guests as a friendly reminder with a call-to-action before they pack up their suitcase for their upcoming visit.
Rule #1 Leave your Sloppiness at Home
The first rule to being a great guest is being neat and tidy. Don't leave your belongings all over your host's house. Confine your items, including your luggage, handbag, dirty laundry, shoes, laptops, cameras and cell phones, in your guest room. The last thing the host wants to do is pick-up after you like a child returning from college. Keeping all of your things in one place also prevents you from leaving an item behind and inconveniencing your host with having to mail it back to you (another no-no in the rule book for being a perfect guest).
Rule #2 Be a Grateful Guest
A wonderful guest acknowledges that they are slightly (or majorly) inconveniencing their host. If their visit means you have to cook for more people and buy extra groceries, or that you are temporarily kicking someone out of their bedroom or bathroom to make room for them, they should acknowledge this and be thankful for all you are doing. A gesture such as treating the hosts to a nice dinner at a favorite restaurant or picking up a few groceries to make a meal at home shows your host that you are aware and grateful to them for setting you up for a few nights. If you are a long-term guest, do this at least weekly.
Rule #3 Don't Disrupt the Family Rhythm
Every family has a unique rhythm to their day. During a week day, for example, if your host has children who go to school it is important for them to adhere to a certain schedule so the kids bathe and go to sleep on time. Having a guest who is gargling at midnight or creaking through the house at 1 o'clock in the morning to get a snack might disrupt the host's light sleeping habits. Or if the hosting family loves to sleep in but the guest gets up at 6 in the morning banging pots and pans to make pancakes, that's a no-no. Strive to get into the same rhythm as your host to maintain your welcomed status.
Rule #4 Lend a Hand
Don't expect to be catered to when you're a guest at someone's home. Even if you are the mother-in-law, wash your own dishes after every meal and lend a hand during meal time. Help with preparing a side dish or washing the dishes after dinner. Don't take over the role as host, but lend a hand so that the host enjoys your company and thinks to themselves, "I like having them around" rather than "when are they leaving?!"
Rule #5 Bathroom Etiquette
One of the "No's" in the rules for "How to be a Welcomed Guest" is leaving behind a messy bathroom. Bathrooms are messy enough if you have kids in the house. But when guests are there, it can get downright filthy. Hopefully as hosts you have given your guests their own set of towels to use. If you are a guest be sure to keep them separated from everyone else's. Don't use their toothpaste, use your own. I always have soap and shampoo for my guests, but if you have your own, that works, too. Minimize the amount of space your toiletries take in the bathroom if it is being shared by others that live there. And always, always leave a clean toilet, there's nothing worse than seeing a dirty toilet seat that a guest left behind. Yikes!
Rule #6 Mr. and Mrs. Clean
A number of our friends have told my husband and me that we leave their home cleaner than when we arrived. Unless we are leaving at 4 in the morning, we always strip our bed linens and wash, dry and fold everything before we depart. We remove our trash, wipe our countertops, and leave everything in tip top shape. Our goal: to lessen the amount of clean-up our hosts have to do after we leave. The "less-our-mess," the more our hosts will enjoy our stay. Can you imagine your place being cleaner than when your guests arrive?
If you observe all of these rules for proper guest etiquette, it's a surefire way to ensure invitations for future visits. Our goal is to always get invited back to stay with friends. I'm happy to report that we do get invited back -- do you?
What's the worst mess a guest has left at your house? And did I leave off any rules you follow for being a welcomed guest?
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