During the summer many of us take off, sometimes for a couple of days, long weekends, for a week, even a month or longer. When we're not staying in hotels we're often staying with friends and family who've opened their homes to us. Oftentimes our hosts are there, yet every so often they're not and still kindly open up their homes. I've read dozens, if not more, I've read many posts, many of them often sharing similar bits of information, on how to be a gracious host, but there's not much out there on how to be a considerate guest. I recently was approached by a friend who had a not so pleasant experience with a house guest and she asked me to write this piece as a gentle reminder to all of those who will be staying at the homes of friends and family this summer, whether hosts will be around or not. Following is a simple guide to being a courteous houseguest.
1. It's nice to bring a small hostess gift as a thank you. This needn't be anything grand or expensive. It would be an equally nice gesture to send flowers after your departure, and at minimum a thank you note.
2. Are there house rules? Learn what they are on arrival.
3. Do make it known what your plans are, if any. Your hosts may have plans for you and so you'll need to sync schedules ahead of time.
4. Be clear about how long you will be staying. There's nothing gracious about overstaying your welcome.
5. If you're traveling by plane make arrangements to have your own transportation so that your hosts aren't responsible for chauffeuring you around. If you are staying with family members, there may be a car for you to use, but this should never be assumed. If you are borrowing a car be sure to leave it with a full tank of gas.
6. Do bring your own toiletries - shampoo, conditioner, soap, toothbrush, toothpaste, razors, etc. If your host leaves out a basket of items for your use, then do please enjoy them. But don't help yourself to their personal items.
7. Bring a bathrobe or opt to take that early morning coffee fully dressed - casual is fine. Men can wear shorts but not their boxers!
8. It should go without saying, but do make your bed every morning. Leave your bedroom tidy and the bathroom should look as it did when you arrived.
9. Keep noise levels to a minimum. If you're watching TV at night or early in the morning do keep the volume as low as you can.
10. Unless it has been arranged beforehand with your host, keep the pets and children at home. These are not welcome last minute surprises.
11. If you do have children or pets with you be mindful of host's routines, if they're around. If they aren't, go through the house, on foot, then down on all fours - eye level for toddlers and pets - and remove anything that could potentially get ruined or broken.
12. Entertain yourselves, and if appropriate, your children. Bring reading material, iPads and the like. Entertaining guests is tiring and you want to impose as little as possible!
13. If you're dining with your hosts offer to set, clear and do the dishes. You may even offer to cook a meal or take everyone out to dinner.
14. If your hosts are out of town, make yourselves at home, but don't make it your home. Don't rearrange furniture - inside or outside. If you do move a chair for, let's say, TV viewing purposes do return everything to its proper location before you leave. The same should be done for outdoor furniture, such as pool and patio. Any pool toys or accessories should be put away. If you use the grill be sure to clean off the surface, cover and tools.
16. If you're using pool towels be sure to wash, dry and fold them. If the hosts are around and insist that they'll take care of it, simply leave them together near the washing area - on a surface that can handle damp items.
17. Replace any items you may have used during your stay, milk, coffee, sugar, fruit, crackers, etc.
18. When you're getting ready to leave do, at the very minimum, strip your beds and remove bath towels from the bathroom. If your guests are out of town, wash and dry your sheets and make the beds. Make sure the house is quickly swept or vacuumed. Wipe down counters. Don't leave dishes in the sink. If there's enough time run and empty the dishwasher.
What do you do to show your hosts your appreciation and to make their lives a bit easier?