Etiquette: Houseguest Edition

It’s pretty safe to say that at one point or another, we will all be someone else’s houseguest, whether it be at the home of a family member or a friend. In the words of the surprisingly promiscuous Benjamin Franklin, “Fish and visitors stink after three days.”  There is nothing worse than a houseguest that you are sick of, and who won’t leave. Don’t be that houseguest. Here! I’ll help you with some quick tips!

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  1. Be able to amuse yourself. Your host, though endlessly helpful and entertaining, will have other things they need to do, or will sleep later than you, or will just need to take a break from the constant togetherness. You need to be able to find something to do in a hurry. This is when I usually pull out a book or my iPad and do my own thing.
  2. Join in on the fun. There is a good chance that your host will have activities planned, or have things that they’re really excited to do with you. Even if it doesn’t sound like your thing, try to find something to enjoy about it. I was taken on a two-and-a-half hour jaunt to look for a particular flower, in order to do some kind of scientific study on it. Do I love the friends I did this with? Yes. Was it one of the most boring things I’ve ever done? Also, yes. But on the plus side, the scenery was nice and it was a nice bit of exercise. So while it was not my thing, I decided to have a good time. And you know what? I did.
  3. Help with the dishes, or at least offer. Or in other words, try to help out wherever you can. With the dishes, with chopping veggies for dinner, with a load of laundry or two. Wherever you can jump in, do so. Your host is kind enough to let you stay, but that doesn’t make her your maid.
  4. Take care of your own dirty sheets. This is something I was always taught to do. If you’re sleeping on the couch, make sure that you take care of your bedding every morning. On a bed or at the end of your trip? Take your sheets, blankets, and pillowcases to the washing machine. And fold them. Don’t just wad them up and throw them in a corner. Come on, lady-girl.
  5. Bring a gift. Traditionally, you bring a small token of your thanks when you stay at someone’s home. It doesn’t have to be anything outrageous. Some good chocolate, fresh flowers, or even a bottle of wine. (Ha! You were wondering when I was going to get to the wine, weren’t you? There’s always room in these articles for wine.)


So go enjoy your stay. And don’t stink like a fish after three days. Just ask to use the shower.

By amandamarieg

Amandamarieg is a lawyer who does not work as a lawyer. She once wrote up a plan to take over the world and turned it in as a paper for a college course. She only received an A-, because she forgot that she would need tech geeks to pull off her scheme.

4 replies on “Etiquette: Houseguest Edition”

I always clean up after myself — like, I’ll wash the dishes if I see them in the sink, clean up the bathroom I used, and at LEAST take sheets and towels to the laundry machine. Of course, I try to do all of that on the sneaky, because I don’t want to end a visit with an argument about whether or not I’m washing that soup bowl.

Otherwise, I try to be social when my host/ess is around, unless it’s a “we are going to this thing in the morning and doing that thing in the afternoon AND THEN dinner out” kind of visit, in which case I try to sneak away for a midday “nap” (I’m a serious introvert) just to have some social-battery-recharging time.

Most hosts usually do decline the offer, but you should still always ask. Or at least keep your host company. I’ve had guests who are like, “Oh, you’re doing something unpleasant? Peace out. I’ll be over here.” And that’s just uncool, man.

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