Eight Ways to Be a Better Houseguest This Summer
Though mostly common sense, these details can help you be a better guest for the weekend, or just for dinner.
It is travel and houseguest season, and we all love seeing our friends and family. As guests, there are as many rules of etiquette as there are beach houses, guest rooms and relationships. But whether you are in an NYC one-bedroom walkup on a futon, snug in your own guest house with views of the water, or anything in between, treat your hosts(and their home) like you would want your guests to treat you.
I know - if it's your sister or best friend, etc., you already have your own rules that work PERFECTLY for you. And, most folks who read Pineapple Ponderings pretty much have all of this down, but here are some reminders as well as some details to make your hosts want to invite you again and again.
1 | LISTEN AND PAY ATTENTION BEFORE YOU EVER ARRIVE.
Just because they are opening their doors and welcoming you does not mean they are putting their lives on hold for the weekend. While you are emailing back and forth the details and your hostess mentions that she has to take the dog to the vet, or her daughter has Day Camp while you are there, remember it and either help out or at the very least, be understanding that she has some things already on her agenda. She has told you for a reason. Listen.
2 | HELP OUT, BUT DON'T BE A PEST.
Offer to help prepare dinner, slice the bread,or make the salad, but if your host says no, then just sit down and be good company. Usually setting the table or opening the wine is helpful, but some people don't like others doing things in their kitchen.
Maybe you are great with the perfect playlist for cocktail music? That might be a huge help.
If your host or hostess begins to clear the plates after dinner, stand up and help. If you are there with your spouse, only one of you should assist; otherwise, there are more people helping them sitting at the table!
Offer to take out the trash. Go to the store if they realize something was forgotten or is missing. You're a pro at fixing a squeaking door (or even better, something technical!) - let them know and offer.
Maybe walk the dog. Watch the kids while she answers email (if you like children). This leads to the next thing . . . . .
3 | GIVE THEM SPACE
You could watch those kids or walk Beauregard so that your hosts have some down time. When you are the host you often feel such a responsibility to your guests that it's difficult to not be in entertaining mode the entire time; help them know that you are fine and love the alone time to relax or explore on your own. Maybe read your book. Keep in mind that they may not want to go to the museum again and enjoy exploring on your own.
4 | SHOW UP WITH A GIFT.
I am a big believer in sending something after the weekend, especially for a longer stay. But for heaven's sake, when you arrive, show up with something. A bouquet of flowers, a bottle of wine, a bag of salted pecans (or something local to you). An easy thing to pack are cute dishtowels, or a small book. What about sassy beach towels or a tote?
MAKE IT SPECIAL - tie those beach towels with a nautical ribbon and a fake starfish or sand dollar. Tuck a handwritten note in the pocket of the tote for them to discover later. Perhaps tie the dishtowels with a ribbon and to that attach a couple of favorite recipes. If it's a frame, frame a quote about hospitality or friendship, letting them know they can of replace it. One thing I love to do is, when a friend gives me a frame with a quote, I always keep it behind the photo that I put into the frame.
The image to the right is a house gift for a male friend who has a lakehouse (obviously a longer stay)
I have been in the situation where I am staying with someone I don't really know. For instance, Dave's college roommate, but I don't really know the roommate's wife. I usually bring something small, and then when I see her taste and style, send a larger gift afterwards with a note. This is usually only necessary if it is a longer stay - three nights, etc.
I wrote another post about my favorite hostess gift for someone I didn't know at ALL (and was there for four nights!).
5 | KEEP IT CLEAN - BEDROOM.
While you are there, make up your bed! Keep your clothes in the closet/drawers or in your suitcase if there is no storage space. Often a guest room has multi-uses and a family member may need to pop in and grab something, so don't make a mess (or feel like you are on vacation and thus lazy) and just keep the door shut. (This is a good idea if you are at your parents' house, too.)
When you're not in the room, turn off the bedside lamps when you leave and turn off the ceiling fan.
When you are leaving, be sure to strip the bed and put all linens in a pillowcase at the end of the bed or on the floor. I like to remake the bed without the linens so that if the host doesn't get laundry done immediately, it still looks put together. Sometimes, it works to launder the sheets yourself and remake the bed, so if you know the hostess well enough (or if it is your mom), then try and do this.
6 | KEEP IT CLEAN - BATH.
It matters A LOT if the bath you are using is being used by someone else - the kids who are bunking in the bedroom on the other side, guests who are invited to dinner, etc. If that is the case, keep it as spotless as you can the entire time you are there. Move your straightening iron, your makeup, etc.
Be sure to empty the bathroom trash when you stay is over - no one wants to see that. An easy thing to do is, if you have been to Target or CVS or whatever, hang on to the plastic bag and use that, tie it, and toss it in the main trash. Grab a couple of paper towels and clean the sink - get rid of any toothpaste, makeup, spots on the mirror, etc. Loosely fold towels and leave them stacked (unless you are doing the laundry - see above).
7 | BUY DRINKS OR DINNER.
If you have been hosted all weekend and you all go to the local pub, pick up the tab. Sometimes I know this isn't appropriate, but you know when it is.
You just know.
8 | WRITE A THANK YOU NOTE.
Write it - don't type it on your laptop. Grab a real piece of paper or a notecard and make a few personal references to the stay. Always pack a couple of notecards, stamps and writing instrument of choice and write it while you are waiting for your plane, or while he is filling the car with gas. Maybe address and stamp before you leave your home in the first place to make it even easier to actually get the letter into the mailbox.
There is not a single thing here that one couldn't argue that no, in certain cases, the host would prefer it another way (except maybe for the keep it clean). These are general ideas to simply boost awareness.