20 Tips for being a Good Houseguest

I recently had the displeasure of entertaining a bad houseguest for a few days at my cottage. I was mildly offended until I realised that, perhaps, people these days just don’t know how to be good houseguests. We live in a world where affordable transport can take us just about anywhere, at any time; gone are the days when a little cold could promote a dinner guest into a houseguest for the next week. Today, we don’t invite friends to stay with us at our homes, country estates or summer houses for several days, weeks or months like the Victorians did and hence, we’ve lost the strict code of etiquette that allowed both parties to survive each other and come out as better friends than they were going in. Being ex urbis from my small hometown, I have many friends and family members that I don’t see very often because we have spread out all over the province and country. I have often wished I had the space to invite someone for an extended stay but it has become such an antiquated concept that I fear no one will take me up on the invitation once I do have the space, or I won’t want to see the ones that do for a long time afterwards. To avoid this prickly demise for myself, my friends and anyone else whom would like to bring back the tradition of houseguests, I offer the following modern tips for being a good houseguest.

  1. Pack lightly; one casual outfit for every day, a few sets of pyjamas, a maximum of three pairs of shoes and one or two formal outfits will suffice.
  2. Bring nice pyjamas for the stay, nothing too revealing or worn-out.
  3. Wake and rise at a reasonable hour, sleeping until 10 am would be rude if your host likes to serve breakfast at 9 o’clock.
  4. Keep your room tidy and don’t leave your things in other parts of the house when you are done using them.
  5. Be discreet; take care of your personal hygiene needs quickly and quietly.
  6. Offer to help with meals being prepared.
  7. Offer to help clean up / do the dishes after a meal.
  8. Don’t complain if you don’t like what is being prepared, choke down a little bit and politely ask for a snack a few hours later.
  9. Inform your host beforehand if you have any food allergies or aversions.
  10. Clean your plate, your host probably spent more money to purchase and prepare nicer dishes than they would have without you, so don’t make them feed that good money to the dogs.
  11. If you bring some food or beverage of your own, offer to share with your host.
  12. Be sociable, if they expected you to stay in the guestroom watching movies on your laptop all day, there would have been no reason to invite you.
  13. Participate in the activities that your host has planed for the two of you.
  14. Don’t expect to be entertained every hour of every day, bring a book or a hobby to work on.
  15. Entertain your host with good conversation.
  16. Don’t stay longer than you were invited to.
  17. Don’t leave earlier than your were expected to.
  18. Bring a small gift for the two of you to use at a later date.
  19. Write a thank you note after you return home.
  20. Return the invitation and invite your host to stay with you in the near future.