Unfortunately, many Americans have been displaced from their homes because of hurricane sandy, which has prompted me to write this post. Many of my friends and relatives have been relying on their friends and family for lodging, food, heat, hot water, etc. because of a lack of power or damage to their homes. Natural disasters aside, sometimes when you’re visiting a friend in the city or going on vacation to a friends home, it’s difficult to gauge the proper way to act when you’re a guest.
– When in doubt, be overly, nauseatingly polite. For example, be extremely mindful of your pleases and thank yous. If you’ve used all of the toilet paper, replace it before leaving the bathroom so that the next person doesn’t have to. If you’re up before your host, prepare them breakfast. After a meal, at least offer to clear the table and help your host with the dishes. You want to be a help to your host – there may be a time you want to visit again, so make your stay a positive experience for your host as well!
– Be active about cleaning up after yourself. Even if you happen to know that your friend doesn’t always make her bed in the morning, make yours! Keep your room tidy. Although you may mean no harm, a messy house guest comes off as disrespectful. After all, this is not your space so you should treat it as such.
– It is always polite to keep your host company until they are ready to retire for the evening, particularly if they’ve invited other guests as well.
– Do not overstay or understay your welcome. This is best avoided by having a discussion with your host BEFORE you visit, and ideally you will have a set time to stay before you get there. This rule is particularly important if you plan to bring children with you.
– Give and receive gifts graciously. If your host cooks a meal for you, compliment and thank them. They spent money and put in effort to make you comfortable and enjoy your stay, so be sure to let them know that it’s appreciated. If you are staying for a weekend, I suggest bringing a gift worth at least $20, or if it’s an unexpected visit like many from sandy, be sure to send a hand-written thank you with a follow up gift. Be sure to make your gift thoughtful, because even if you were the best house guest, a tacky gift could come off as offensive. Some good gift ideas could be a Yankee candle in your friend’s favorite scent with a candle warmer, a philosophy gift set from Sephora, or if your friend is a pet owner, pet-related gifts are always a great idea.