Sooner or later you’ll be a guest in someone’s home. It may be a visit to a friend or a relative, or a weekend sleepover, or perhaps your boyfriend or girlfriend would introduce you his or her parents.
Whatever the situation, you’ll want to be considerate of your host, and leave a good impression. Here are some suggestions on how you can do that:
1. Come with an invitation–not just a drop-in “I’m here, you lucky people!” (Even a phone call or text message from down the road is better than the shock of a totally unexpected visitor.) Don’t always assume thatpeople will be happy to see a surprise visit from you.
2. Bring a small gift of appreciation to the host. This could be a loaf of bread, some fruit, a bottle of wine, or cookies. It doesn’t have to be fancy, just thoughtful. And if you really want to be a hit, take a small gift for the children in the family.
3. Let your host know your expected arrival time and be responsible enough to notify the host if there’s a delay or change in plans. Keeping a meal waiting can get a visit off to a bad start.
4. Speak to, listen to, and be kind to everyone in the family, from the youngest to the oldest (and at least tolerate the family pet!) Especially if you go to the home of a friend your age, don’t ignore your friend’s parents if they are present. They are probably the ones paying for your food and washing your linens.
5. Look for things to do to help such as setting the table, clearing the dishes, washing the dishes, or playing games with the younger children. A few people don’t want help, but others are more comfortable when the work is shared.
6. Keep your room neat. Make the bed and pick up after yourself.
7. Respect the privacy of the family. Don’t wander into rooms you haven’t been invited into or snoop through closets or cabinets. On the other hand, don’t spend a lot of time in your room with the doors closed.
8. Speed up your bathroom rituals (unless there is a private guest bathroom). Don’t monopolize the bathroom or leave all your things lying on the sink and shower after you use them; and hang your towel properly.
9. Graciously eat the food that is prepared. Giving a lecture on diet is a fast way to become an unwelcome guest. If you don’t want to eat or drink something, just skipthat item. Don’t make an issue of it, and don’t go around reading labels and questioning each recipe. Compliment the cook.
10. Keep public display of affection within limits of good taste if you’re visiting a boyfriend or a girlfriend’s home. The family should never feel embarrassed. Parents shouldn’t feel that they have to keep track of you and chaperone.
11. Join and enjoy family activities, even if you may find them boring.
12. Respect and participate in the customs and rituals of the home. Maybe it’s eating with chopsticks, removing shoes in the house, keeping feet off the furniture, the music low, or the television off at certain times of the day. Don’t make your hosts alter their schedules and usual patterns for you. In the same way, don’t expect them to entertain you every minute. Find a book or magazine to read, go for a walk, or offer your help with whatever your host is doing.
13. Be sensitive to the family’s financial situation. Don’t take a huge serving of food if there’s limited supply. Don’t eat or drink a lot of what is obviously a special treat. Be sure to pay your host for any phone calls you make or for other expenses you incur.
14. Leave a neat room and bed. You may do one of the following:
a. Leave a note of thanks in the bedroom.
b. Write a thank you note within a few days of departure.
c. Leave a small gift or thank-you note in the bedroom.
Most people enjoy sharing time with a houseguest, especially when they know that the guest appreciated the time and expense they put forth in sharing their home and family.
Visiting in someone’s home is an honor and privilege. It is an opportunity to show the host that your visit is not a headache, but a very real pleasure!