How to Be a Good House Guest, 4 Simple Rules

Posted on Aug 5 2020 - 9:00am by Samantha Clark

When being invited to someone’s house, regardless of the relationship between you, whether paying a visit or staying the night, it is important to go with good manners. Especially as, I’m sure, we’d likely expect the same courtesy. But what makes a good house guest? We share 4 simple rules to follow every time to help make things easier on the host and more enjoyable all round.

What’s key is putting the feeling of others above your own, this starts from the receipt of the invitation.

Communicating with your host

As they say, communication is key. Let your host know you are coming one way or another. If you commit to attending, ensure you attend unless you’ve got a good reason. They’ve likely made special accommodations to have you over whether that’s extra food, drink etc. that will have come at a cost to your host/hostess. If you can no longer make it, for whatever reason, you should let your hosts know at the earliest opportunity. Ensure you’re profusely apologetic and if it is considerably short notice, send them a little something as a way of apology. If they feel messed around, you’ll unlikely be invited to the next occasion and bear in mind that you’ve potentially stopped someone else being there.

How to be a good house guest

If you don’t RSVP and don’t communicate with the hosts, they’ll probably expect that you won’t be attending. It’s therefore unacceptable to not RSVP and assume you’ll still be welcome, particularly if the host is having to make accommodations for their guests e.g. ordering in food, restricting numbers etc.

If you’re going over for food, don’t forget to make your hosts aware of any allergies or dietary requirements. However, this rule is strictly must-needs circumstance, it isn’t appropriate to be fussy.

If you’re late for any reason, though really try not to be, call or message your hosts to let them know you will still be there but running behind.

Be respect of your hosts and their home

Always be respectful of your host/hostess and that includes their home and their possessions. Whether you’re a relative or close friend, always treat their home with the utmost respect. We all have different expectations, house rules and behaviours, so it’s probably not wise to ‘make yourself at home’ initially, particularly if there is a large function going on. For example, check if it’s OK to wear shoes around the house before entering, appreciate there may be boundaries on where you can go- it’s probably not appropriate to go into their bedroom, and don’t just go into cupboards or the fridge without asking your host/hostess.

In our modern time we feel it needs to be said, when you’re at any kind of function or event keeping phone use to a minimum is expected. Your hosts expect you to be in the moment and if you’re on your phone this shows disinterest. Checking things briefly and fact checking is ok, particularly if you have children, but scrolling through your Facebook timeline isn’t.

Offer a helping hand

Being a good house guest

Offer to contribute to the occasion, whether that’s bring a dish, catering for the desserts, offering up some of your decorations suitable to the event, or even helping with the dishes whilst you’re there. Every little bit helps after all. Even if your host refuses, we’d still recommend you take them a little something, even as a thank you.

If children are invited, always tidy up after them. Don’t make the assumption that just because they’re at someone else’s home that it isn’t your problem. They are still your children and their behaviour reflects on you.

Don’t forget to thank your host

Thank you note

Thank your hosts. It’s something that seems to have gone awry in recent times but it was always courteous to give a little gift to the host/hostess. After all, time, effort and probably money has gone into having you over. Although of course they did this off their own backs, they really didn’t have to, and it’s nice to feel appreciated. It doesn’t have to be anything extravagant; it could be a bottle of something, a small box of chocolates or even a handwritten note after the fact.

Is there anything you’d add to the list? Do you have any particular bugbears as a host? We’d love to hear from you, share with us in the comments below!

If you liked this piece, you may like our other etiquette guides…

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