5 Rules For Being a Good House Guest

Usually, it's as easy as plying your hosts with dessert... and wine.
Usually, it’s as easy as plying your hosts with dessert… and wine.

We really should have installed a revolving door at the entrance to our house. We are in the midst of six weekends in a row of house guests (not to mention two of the three previous weekends, and one of the two following.) With no exception, everyone that comes to stay with us is amazing, thoughtful, and understands the concept of being a good guest.

Often when I tell people that we have so much company, they don’t get how I can be so easy-breezy about the whole thing. Well, as I mentioned, our friends and family are considerate. I hope that I am equally considerate when we stay with others.  If you worry about staying in someone else’s house, follow these simple rules for being a good house guest and you will be fine.

  1. As my Great Aunt Mickey used to say, “Guests are like fish. They both stink after three days.Don’t overstay your welcome. Yes, there are times when a longer trip is called for, (like the first time FKGuy met my parents and he stayed with us for a month, but that is another story altogether), but when you are going to see friends you haven’t seen in twenty years, that is not the time to make it a week long visit.
  2. Be helpful. Last weekend, we threw an absolutely fabulous brunch. Did you see how great the buffet looked? Guess what? My mother-in-law plated half the food (at least), and made the whole thing easier by offering a helping hand.
  3. Be gracious. Don’t arrive empty handed. I’m pretty sure the bourbon balls I made in advance of my trip to stay with my-then-future-in-laws arrived in sad shape, as they had then spent two full days in a car en route from Florida to New Jersey. It was the thought that counts. Bring a couple bottles of wine. Offer to treat your hosts to dinner. Whatever. Make a gesture, and it will be appreciated.
  4. Understand that you are on vacation, while the people you are visiting are just living their regular lives with regular stuff to do, like laundry and grocery shopping. Don’t expect your hosts to entertain you 24/7. If you are uncomfortable venturing out on your own, get over it. Also, bring a book. We keep maps of Key West handy so guests can get around on their own, on foot.
  5. Be flexible. You are staying at someone’s house, not at a hotel, so you need to be, at least to a degree, on their schedule. Sometimes that means making the bed with a clean set of sheets for the next guests, sometimes it means instead of going out for happy hour, you are having it in, so your hosts’ children can play in the yard while you suck down margaritas.

Most of the time being a good house guest just means being yourself. After all, they did invite you, right? Once when we were in Park City staying with our friends, and skiing, we had dinner at their house. For dessert, I made whoopie pies. I can’t help myself, plus my hosts asked me to make them. Later, while eating dinner, I overheard the then-nine year old explaining to the fifteen year old daughter of the other dinner companions, that I was the best baker in the world. And sometimes being a good house guest means getting your self-validation from a nine year old. (He is, in fact, one smart kid.)