How to Be the Perfect Houseguest

How To Be The Perfect HouseguestAt the beach, in the mountains or in the big city, being invited to a friend's place not only lets us catch up with loved ones but also lets us save on hotels.

Of course, the flip side is that there's a totally different set of expectations (read: you can't throw your towels on the floor). If you're not a master of houseguest etiquette, you might come off as ungrateful and inadvertently ruin your chances of visiting again next year.

We don’t want you to break a long tradition of shacking up at your aunt’s cute beach house every summer, so we’ve put together a guide to being the perfect houseguest. Read on for our tips.

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  • AM

    I always try to see if there’s a night I can make dinner.

  • Minnesota Mom

    We have a lake home in Northern MN and many friends have asked to come visit.  We appreciate when they bring a bottle of wine or something we can share that weekend.

  • Itinerant Sally

    In addition to the perfect gift, I make every effort to replace the alcohol we may have enjoyed together from their collection.  I tend to be a less discerning drinker than many of my friends, so I make every effort to replace their favorites and not buy the cheap stuff that I generally drink at home!

  • Chris F

    Offer to include your hosts or their children in one of your activities.  Although entertaining yourself is important, it isn’t out of line to offer your hosts a chance to enjoy local attractions or restaurants that they might not go to without company.

  • Laurab

    I try to stay out of their way as much as possible. It’s great to spend quality time with one another during your visit, but their life shouldn’t change. To give the host their alone time, I find out what’s nearby so I can go exploring on my own.

    On my last visit, I left my friend with a bunch of TV shows on a flash drive. Also a doodle and a note on top of the fridge. I knew it would be found a bit later, so that made it more of a special surprise.

    A good tip is to ask before you get there, what you should bring. That takes some of the pressure off and shows that you can fend for yourself as a guest. Once there, it’s nice to make food for your friends, without being asked. Don’t overstep and compete with the dinner they’d planned, but let them know that you want to take care of after work tapas, or whatever. All in all, just think of the way you would want someone to act in your home, and go from there.

  • Gaby317nyc

    I’d like to echo some of the tips mentioned. It helps to know exactly when guests are arriving and leaving, when they plan to eat dinner out and when they will be home for dinner. I like to know in advance so i can get groceries and organized.
    It makes a difference when they can bring their own towels esp if there 3 or 4 guests coming for 1 or 2 nights. But for guests who don’t have a car, just putting the used linens in a pillowcase at the bottom of the bed/sofa is appreciated. I’m in danger of boring everyone with complaints, so let me jump to my tips.

    I adjust to my hosts’ schedules, treat them to activities, dinner, drinks, and try to help out with The errands. Setting up the internet, picking up food, drinks, taking the dog out, etc. And i try to find a gift that they can use by the end of my stay. Chocolates and books are often welcome.

  • lufemu

    When visiting family @ their beach house, we will bring supplies we know they use such as paper towels, shampoo, laundry detergent.  We also show up with fresh bagels, lunch fixins and either fix dinner 1 night or buy dinner.  Being a yard sale-er, I also keep my eyes open for things they can use @ the beach house such as water toys, beach towels, kitchen essentials.  They love having us stay since we always leave them with more than they had when we arrived.

  • Brenda

    When there are young children in the house, in addition to the gift for host/hostess, I like to bring a small gift for each child for each day. Books, goggles, beach toys, puzzles, etc. provide a new experience to look forward to each day and help to amuse children when they get bored.

  • Leighannhackerman

    My rule of thumb is to always leave things better than I found them.  This means not only leaving the room/rooms as neat and clean as they were before, but help out around the house when you can and leave the bed  and bathroom stripped  with clean sheets and towels in place of the dirties if possible.  Leave flowers, nice soaps, or lotion in the bed/bath area and a nice wine or coffee in the kitchen.  

  • Ginny777

    These are all great ideas and hear are someadditional things I like to do:  Practice the golden rule — treat your host the way you would want to be treated if you were hosting her.  I also try to bring magazines or videos that we can either share or she can enjoy when I am gone and finally I cook and supply at least one meal during my stay and try to buy a gift certificate to a local restaurant or supermarket that she can use after I g as a thank you gift.

  • Christinawils71

    Clean up after yourself, go to sleep at a reasonable time in accord with other people staying there.  Bring a special gift when you come.  Buy the food and beverage. Talk to everyone who is in the house, not just the person who invited you. Remember to say thank you.  Be a “do-er”, an active guest instead of a “wait on me” person.  Laugh alot with your friends – that will help create great memories for a return trip invitation.

  • Anonymous

    RINSE DA TUB N(AND) BASIN WEN DONE,WIPE UP DA BATHROOM FLOOR AFTA(AFTER) SHAWA(SHOWER) N OPEN DA(THE) BATHROOM /BEDROOM WINDOW UPON LEAVING.

  • Stephanie Anyadike

    Always keep the place cleaner than how you left it.
    Carry your own Towel and bath soap.
    Never criticize the hosts cooking.

  • Emily

    Compliment the guest’s house, ask questions about how things are done and show your enthusiasm. Let the hosts know you like their living arrangment! People can be self-conscious about how they live, it’s so personal, so it’s nice to hear from someone that they appreciate you and your style of living. Compliments go a very long way! They’re gifts in themselves. 

  • Gevert13

    Wow, sounds like people have had a lot of un-welcomed guests. I love when my friends and family come and visit and my motto is…my house is their house. Everyone fends for themselves and we make plans with each other and around each other.  If it is longer than 3-4 days then we adjust the game plan.

  • Wmartnz7

    Come with a list of things you want to see or do.  It makes it easier to plan for or around you.  I love having houseguests and planning for them, but it makes it a lot easier if I know what their interests are!  I’ve done it for my siblings, parents and good friends.  Having a plan is much better than “I don’t know.  What do you want to do?” back and forth and back and…

  • when you do bring pets over, make sure they are well-trained. it’s no fun to have to clean after them or be on your way to bed and to step in a pile of defecation right outside the door.

  • Anonymous

    Whenever I stay with a friend, or whenever I house sit, I always make sure to leave the house as good as I found it (or better)! Last time I house sat, I finished a jar of peanut butter that was almost empty, and some groceries went bad while they were away. I replaced grocery items right before they came home so that everything would be fresh. I even made sure to get some treats for the kids. 
    As mentioned in the article/slide show, I always leave handwritten notes when I leave. Especially if something came up while I staying there. Once, the kitten opened a cupboard and ate more than his fair share of cat food… so I purchased a big tupperware container to put it in. I make sure to do the same sort of things when I am a visiting guest too. My hosts seem to appreciate it.

  • Anonymous

    Whenever I stay with a friend, or whenever I house sit, I always make sure to leave the house as good as I found it (or better)! Last time I house sat, I finished a jar of peanut butter that was almost empty, and some groceries went bad while they were away. I replaced grocery items right before they came home so that everything would be fresh. I even made sure to get some treats for the kids. 
    As mentioned in the article/slide show, I always leave handwritten notes when I leave. Especially if something came up while I staying there. Once, the kitten opened a cupboard and ate more than his fair share of cat food… so I purchased a big tupperware container to put it in. I make sure to do the same sort of things when I am a visiting guest too. My hosts seem to appreciate it.

  • Anonymous

    Whenever I stay with a friend, or whenever I house sit, I always make sure to leave the house as good as I found it (or better)! Last time I house sat, I finished a jar of peanut butter that was almost empty, and some groceries went bad while they were away. I replaced grocery items right before they came home so that everything would be fresh. I even made sure to get some treats for the kids. 
    As mentioned in the article/slide show, I always leave handwritten notes when I leave. Especially if something came up while I staying there. Once, the kitten opened a cupboard and ate more than his fair share of cat food… so I purchased a big tupperware container to put it in. I make sure to do the same sort of things when I am a visiting guest too. My hosts seem to appreciate it.

  • She_wizard

    I always insist on taking my host(s) out for a special day, my treat.  I pick something they would not normally do for themselves, like a spa visit or off the beaten trail day trip.

  • Medusa113

    Take them ALL out to dinner!

  • Kic488

    Don’t be too loud! My roommates and I had some friends staying with us after a bachelorette party, and they came back at 2am and made quite a racket. It’s great to have fun and fine with us they came in late, but we all had to work at 8:30 am!

  • Kic488

    Don’t be too loud! My roommates and I had some friends staying with us after a bachelorette party, and they came back at 2am and made quite a racket. It’s great to have fun and fine with us they came in late, but we all had to work at 8:30 am!

  • Kic488

    Don’t be too loud! My roommates and I had some friends staying with us after a bachelorette party, and they came back at 2am and made quite a racket. It’s great to have fun and fine with us they came in late, but we all had to work at 8:30 am!

  • NWFLDeaconsWife

    Houseguest Gift
    If staying for a day, Wine or Host/Hostess’s favorite drink, or maybe some fruit.

    If staying for a weekend, the beach towel is a good idea, or Tote, the glasses not so much. Most folks pick what reflects THEIR style for their homes, not what someone else thinks they should have. Bring your own toiletries, toothbrush, etc.

    If staying for a week, a sack of groceries like bread, milk (or small can of coffee), butter or margarine, napkins, some sort of snack food. These are things that guests use as well as the Host/Hostess and often it’s these little things that add up to big money later trying to keep it on hand. Putting same ingredients in a basket or milk crate gets bonus points. Storage items are ALWAYS helpful.

    If staying for more than a week, offer cash for food and the inevitable increases in water bill and electric bill. Even if your Host/Hostess refuses the offer, at least you have made it clear that you are aware that your presence will add to the financial needs of the household while you are there, and that always eases a Host/Hostess’s heart about these things. If your offer is refused, go shopping with them and buy a few of the snacks/drinks you prefer so that your Host/Hostess won’t have to worry about those.

    Oh, and though a note left behind is nice, you should really SNAIL MAIL it.  It will mean so much more when it arrives because of the special care that goes into hand-writing and sending it and will let your Host/Hostess know, (now that things have returned to normal) that you both had a good time, even if there was extra efforts involved.

  • NWFLDeaconsWife

    Houseguest Gift
    If staying for a day, Wine or Host/Hostess’s favorite drink, or maybe some fruit.

    If staying for a weekend, the beach towel is a good idea, or Tote, the glasses not so much. Most folks pick what reflects THEIR style for their homes, not what someone else thinks they should have. Bring your own toiletries, toothbrush, etc.

    If staying for a week, a sack of groceries like bread, milk (or small can of coffee), butter or margarine, napkins, some sort of snack food. These are things that guests use as well as the Host/Hostess and often it’s these little things that add up to big money later trying to keep it on hand. Putting same ingredients in a basket or milk crate gets bonus points. Storage items are ALWAYS helpful.

    If staying for more than a week, offer cash for food and the inevitable increases in water bill and electric bill. Even if your Host/Hostess refuses the offer, at least you have made it clear that you are aware that your presence will add to the financial needs of the household while you are there, and that always eases a Host/Hostess’s heart about these things. If your offer is refused, go shopping with them and buy a few of the snacks/drinks you prefer so that your Host/Hostess won’t have to worry about those.

    Oh, and though a note left behind is nice, you should really SNAIL MAIL it.  It will mean so much more when it arrives because of the special care that goes into hand-writing and sending it and will let your Host/Hostess know, (now that things have returned to normal) that you both had a good time, even if there was extra efforts involved.

  • NWFLDeaconsWife

    Houseguest Gift
    If staying for a day, Wine or Host/Hostess’s favorite drink, or maybe some fruit.

    If staying for a weekend, the beach towel is a good idea, or Tote, the glasses not so much. Most folks pick what reflects THEIR style for their homes, not what someone else thinks they should have. Bring your own toiletries, toothbrush, etc.

    If staying for a week, a sack of groceries like bread, milk (or small can of coffee), butter or margarine, napkins, some sort of snack food. These are things that guests use as well as the Host/Hostess and often it’s these little things that add up to big money later trying to keep it on hand. Putting same ingredients in a basket or milk crate gets bonus points. Storage items are ALWAYS helpful.

    If staying for more than a week, offer cash for food and the inevitable increases in water bill and electric bill. Even if your Host/Hostess refuses the offer, at least you have made it clear that you are aware that your presence will add to the financial needs of the household while you are there, and that always eases a Host/Hostess’s heart about these things. If your offer is refused, go shopping with them and buy a few of the snacks/drinks you prefer so that your Host/Hostess won’t have to worry about those.

    Oh, and though a note left behind is nice, you should really SNAIL MAIL it.  It will mean so much more when it arrives because of the special care that goes into hand-writing and sending it and will let your Host/Hostess know, (now that things have returned to normal) that you both had a good time, even if there was extra efforts involved.

  • NWFLDeaconsWife

    Houseguest Gift
    If staying for a day, Wine or Host/Hostess’s favorite drink, or maybe some fruit.

    If staying for a weekend, the beach towel is a good idea, or Tote, the glasses not so much. Most folks pick what reflects THEIR style for their homes, not what someone else thinks they should have. Bring your own toiletries, toothbrush, etc.

    If staying for a week, a sack of groceries like bread, milk (or small can of coffee), butter or margarine, napkins, some sort of snack food. These are things that guests use as well as the Host/Hostess and often it’s these little things that add up to big money later trying to keep it on hand. Putting same ingredients in a basket or milk crate gets bonus points. Storage items are ALWAYS helpful.

    If staying for more than a week, offer cash for food and the inevitable increases in water bill and electric bill. Even if your Host/Hostess refuses the offer, at least you have made it clear that you are aware that your presence will add to the financial needs of the household while you are there, and that always eases a Host/Hostess’s heart about these things. If your offer is refused, go shopping with them and buy a few of the snacks/drinks you prefer so that your Host/Hostess won’t have to worry about those.

    Oh, and though a note left behind is nice, you should really SNAIL MAIL it.  It will mean so much more when it arrives because of the special care that goes into hand-writing and sending it and will let your Host/Hostess know, (now that things have returned to normal) that you both had a good time, even if there was extra efforts involved.

  • Lbdinparis

    Be prepared to entertain yourself and/or have ideas of what you want to do if they ask. It’s no fun sitting around because no one thought about what they wanted to do!

  • Lbdinparis

    Be prepared to entertain yourself and/or have ideas of what you want to do if they ask. It’s no fun sitting around because no one thought about what they wanted to do!

  • Lbdinparis

    Be prepared to entertain yourself and/or have ideas of what you want to do if they ask. It’s no fun sitting around because no one thought about what they wanted to do!

  • Lbdinparis

    Be prepared to entertain yourself and/or have ideas of what you want to do if they ask. It’s no fun sitting around because no one thought about what they wanted to do!

  • Lbdinparis

    Be prepared to entertain yourself and/or have ideas of what you want to do if they ask. It’s no fun sitting around because no one thought about what they wanted to do!

  • Lbdinparis

    Be prepared to entertain yourself and/or have ideas of what you want to do if they ask. It’s no fun sitting around because no one thought about what they wanted to do!

  • Lbdinparis

    Be prepared to entertain yourself and/or have ideas of what you want to do if they ask. It’s no fun sitting around because no one thought about what they wanted to do!

  • Lbdinparis

    Be prepared to entertain yourself and/or have ideas of what you want to do if they ask. It’s no fun sitting around because no one thought about what they wanted to do!

  • Anonymous

    I always leave my hostess a beautifully wrapped soap in her favorite scent with a handwritten note in the room where I stayed. It is a nice surprise when she goes to remake the room, it reminds her of your appreciation after you have left, and she can either use it for her next guest or as treat for herself! (Utile and thoughtful!) I know the favorite scents of my closest friends, but if you aren’t best buds with your host just take a look around the house at her candles or handsoaps to see if she prefers florals, citruses or clean linen scents. 

  • My tip is to plan out and prepare a nice dinner for the whole house. It’s great to take them out to restaurants as well, but that takes such little effort. When you go to the extent of making everyone a delicious meal, it means so much more!

  • Sheila

    I tend to visit during the holidays so I always try to send a special gift basket.  Last year I sent some breakfast items from Wolferman’s.  

  • Can you write one on how to be a good hostess? I’ve had plenty of guests this summer and I want to be sure I’m doing it right lol For short weekend guests I do the groceries but for a pair staying 3 weeks, they get their own. Plus I find myself getting annoyed when the kitchen and bathroom are in constant disorder but I won’t say anything.Help!

  • What a treat I LOVED that!