7 essential rules for being the perfect house guest

Are you gearing up to be a house guest? Discover the dos and don'ts of staying with family or friends in their home, as well as easy ways to be the perfect company.

Staying overnight with relatives or friends can be a whole new experience for some families. Whether you've known your visitors all your life or only a few months, here's what you can do to make a homestay as comfortable as possible.

Be upfront

If you've been extended an invitation to stay a few days with your loved ones, the 'guest' work starts now.

Etiquette expert, Anna Musson says upfront communication is key from the moment you accept an invitation.

"If you or your family member has allergies or intolerances, you need to mention these when you RSVP."

Make sure that you work it in a way that’s conversational and casual, alerting them to the allergy so they are aware of it. However, if there is an intolerance which concerns food swaps, you must remove the obligation from the host. 

"The onus is on you as the guest to make sure you bring all of the substitutes required so that your host doesn’t feel an obligation to provide these," she says.

Arrive with a gift

Never arrive empty-handed. "If you're going to be staying for a week or more, you can always order a gift basket or have an alcohol or groceries delivery to land day of, or the day before, your arrival," suggests Anna.

"This sets a really pleasant tone. If it’s a weekend stay with friends, have a small bottle shop delivery arrive the day before you do... that way your hosts think, 'Wow, this is going to be great!'"

Discuss housekeeping rules

"When you arrive, it’s a good idea to check in with your hosts and ask questions about their everyday routine," says Anna.

Asking what you or your family can do to help is the best way of knowing if your host doesn’t like anyone helping in the kitchen, or loves all hands on deck. This applies to pets too, ask about where they're allowed to go and areas they shouldn't be in.

Keep your space tidy

Once you’ve settled in, it's essential to keep your areas tidy. This includes all of the spaces you occupy.

"It's a good idea to make your bed each day. It shows that you have respect for your room and you know you're not staying in a hotel suite," advises Anna. "It’s also good to keep the bathroom immaculate."

Dress for breakfast

This might not apply to all homes, especially if you're staying with very close family, but Anna believes being dressed for breakfast is an essential consideration.

"Dress for breakfast each day. If this is your own family or a super relaxed crew you know so well, it might be fine, but otherwise it’s better to be dressed," she says.

Repay the favour

It's very generous for your hosts to offer their home to you, so why not repay them by helping out with the housework, or taking them out for a meal?

"Offer to either cook one night or take your hosts out for a meal. It’s a nice way of giving back, especially if your hosts don’t like to share the kitchen," says Anna.

Before you leave

"At end of your stay, ask your host if they would like the bed stripped or left as is," suggests Anna.

Some hosts prefer to get on with the cleaning straight away, while others are happy to do this chore themselves after you've gone.

"A thoughtful guest will always remove the bedding fold it neatly and put it on the bed - if that's what their host wants," she says.

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