How to Be Such an Amazing House Guest You Get Invited Back Every Time
Here are 11 house guest etiquette rules to follow, no matter who you’re staying with or how long you plan to be there. (Trust us, this is how you get invited back).
Be Clear About How Long You’re Staying
Make sure you clear your visit duration with the hosts as far in advance as possible—at their invitation, of course. Don’t be vague or hope to extend your stay once you arrive—of course, they might offer, but don't make assumptions. If your BFF says she’ll be busy after Labor Day, book your return ticket to leave a full day before so she has some time to herself. The last thing you want to do is take advantage of your host.
Don’t Show Up Unannounced
It’s never a good idea to show up without notice—or, even worse, to show up with a pet, child, significant other, or friend (even if it’s a mutual friend) in tow, unless you’ve cleared it with your host beforehand. You may call it spontaneous and fun, but your cousin and her husband may call it inconvenient.
Bring a Thoughtful Gift
A grateful guest always brings their host a gift—at least a little something to show their gratitude. No need to haul something huge and extravagant to their place. A local treat from your hometown bakery, a beautiful coffee table book, flowers, a nice candle, or bottle of wine all work perfectly. Headed to someone’s vacation house? Get them something on theme: beach towels, a beach bag, or cocktail-themed gift would be perfect.
Follow House Rules
When you arrive, gently inquire about how things are done to avoid any misunderstandings. What time does everyone usually wake up and go to bed? Anything you should know about the kids or pets? Should you leave the thermostat alone? Pick up on other house rules—like whether you should take your shoes off or if you shouldn’t bring your phone to the dinner table—by being in tune with your hosts. Also, refrain from finishing the leftovers or milk (but if you do, replace it).
Limit Your Phone Use
Spending too much time with your face in a screen will make your hosts feel like they’re boring you (and, honestly, you might be boring them). It makes your company feel like there’s somewhere else you’d rather be, or someone else you’d rather be spending time with. Try to limit screen time around them and only check emails, texts, and social media in the privacy of your own room.
Act More Appropriate Than Usual
Before you walk down the hall covered by only a towel, curse or tell inappropriate jokes freely, or come downstairs for breakfast in your PJs, take cues from your host—when in doubt, err on the side of modesty. If you’re headed out to dinner with your hosts, ask what the right attire is for the restaurant (i.e. no jeans) so you can pack accordingly.
Be Extremely Helpful
Unhelpful guests rarely get invited back. Things you should offer to do: Help prep or cook meals; set the table and do the dishes; drive people in your car; occupy the kids while their parents take a well-deserved nap; fix a little something around the house if you have the skills; or take the dog for a walk. Even if you’re turned down, the hosts will appreciate the gesture.
Things you should do without asking for a thumbs up: Clear your dishes when you’re done eating; buy some groceries and maybe the fixings for cocktails; get your own kids out of the house for an hour or two; fill up the tank if you borrow the car; strip your sheets at the end of your stay (unless you’re told otherwise).
Be (at Least Somewhat) Self-Sufficient
Your hosts might be happy to see a Broadway show or the Lincoln Memorial for the third time, but they may also choose to get some things done while you sitesee. Your friend might actually be working during the day, so being able to entertain yourself will be a godsend for both of you. If you’re staying for more than three days, call up other friends who live in the city, bring some work of your own to do, or be okay exploring on your own. Let your host know your plans and when you think you will get back.
Bring Your Own Toiletries
Don’t expect to use any of your hosts’ toiletries or other items. If you realize you’ve forgotten to pack toothpaste, inquire about where you can buy a new tube. They’ll likely be happy to offer theirs, but first demonstrate that you’re not a mooch.
Leave Things Cleaner Than You Found Them
If there’s one thing to take away from these etiquette tips, it should be this: Leave the place as clean as possible when you go. The last thing you want is for your host to have to hire a cleaner after your stay. On your last day, triple-check the bedroom and bathroom for your belongings, and strip the sheets and put them in a pillowcase at the foot of the bed. Do a quick wipe-down of the counters in the bathroom for toothpaste, extra cups, or loose hair. And, of course, return any items to their place, like a book you borrowed from the bookshelf.
Say Thank You
Thank your host three times: When you arrive, when you’re about to leave, and once more after you’ve gone with a handwritten thank-you note. Here, an email won’t cut it. Throw in a specific detail about how much fun you had doing a certain activity, how hard you laughed at a particular story, or how delicious a specific meal was. Finish with an offer to open up your own place later on. For an optional but memorable thank you, pick up a fresh bouquet of flowers and leave them in a vase on the kitchen counter with your note before you leave. Otherwise, mail your card within two or three days of the end of your visit.