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When it comes to summer travel, one of the simple pleasures of a long summer weekend is spending time at a friend or family member’s house.

Because we want to ensure that we’re making the best impression possible wherever we go–and when we host–we tapped a pro to fill us in on the rules for being the best house guest (and host) possible. Read on for tips from certified etiquette consultant Nikesha Tannehill Tyson’s advice.

When you’re the guest:

Above all else, be grateful
No matter how well you know your host, there should be no doubt in their mind that you’re deeply grateful they’re hosting you. It sounds simple, but you should aim to demonstrate the sentiment throughout the duration of your stay, both via actions and words.

Show up with a gift
When it comes to gifting a host, there are a number of approaches you can take. If you live in different states, you may want to consider purchasing something they can’t get locally where they live. If you’re dialed in on their favorite things, you can go in that direction. And if you’re not sure, Tannehill Tyson suggests fancy chocolates or flowers, two universally nice gestures.

Follow up with a handwritten thank you note
Tannehill Tyson recommends presenting your gift right as you arrive, and then following up after your stay with a handwritten thank you note. The thank you note should be intentional and thoughtful, and reference specific details of the time spent in your host’s company that you enjoyed.

Take care of your area
Even though your host likely won’t be in and out of your room, the respectful thing to do is keep it as tidy as possible. And no snooping! It’s not polite to open medicine cabinets or rifle through drawers. Stay in the area your host has designated you and main living areas or common spaces–there’s no need to wander into private rooms.

Offer to help
Most hosts will not ask you to help with household chores like cooking, cleaning, or grocery shopping, but the polite thing to do is proactively offer. If they decline, that’s okay–they may have a very specific way of doing things or simply prefer doing them on their own. At the very least, you can clear your plate from the table after dinner–unless they specifically ask you not to.

A few more things to keep in mind:

  • Don’t bring uninvited guests (this includes pets!)
  • Be mindful of house rules (if the host doesn’t wear shoes, you shouldn’t either)
  • If you have plans to do things without the host during your stay, inform them of your itinerary in advance
  • Bring your own toiletries in case the host doesn’t have them (though most hosts will…more on that below)

Now that we’ve established proper guest protocol, let’s get into what you can do to be the best host possible.

When you’re the host:

Provide toiletries for your guest
Though guests will likely bring their own, putting out things like soap, shampoo, and toothpaste is a thoughtful gesture that will go a long way, even if they have them.

Tannehill Tyson notes that you can take this to the next level if you know the guest well by stocking toiletries in their favorite fragrances.

Tidy your home in advance
As a host, it’s important for your guests to feel respected–and like you’re excited to have them–which means they should arrive to a clean and organized home.

Show the guest around
Even if your guest has been to the house before, if it’s been a while, show them around. Remind them of the Wi-Fi password, show them how to use the television and the remote, and other household items they might need help with.

If you have to head out, invite your guest
If you need to run any household errands while someone is staying with you, invite them along. If you have dinner plans with someone else during a night they’re staying there, let them know well in advance so they can make their own plans–or invite them if possible.

How far in advance should you extend an invitation?
While this depends on the nature of the relationship, one to two weeks is ideal.

Other quick tips:

  • If you forget a gift for your host, treat them to a meal out
  • If a guest breaks something, be gracious–accidents happen
  • As a host, ask for dietary restrictions in advance
  • As a guest, share serious dietary restrictions proactively
  • If your host is cooking at home, offer to pitch in for groceries
  • As the host, you aren’t obligated to pick up your guest from the airport or train station, but it’s kind to offer
  • As a guest, if the host doesn’t offer to pick you up from the airport or train station, make your own arrangements instead of requesting that they do
  • Typically, more than 4 days is overstaying your welcome
  • The best way to politely decline an invitation you’re not interested in is by being honest–if you’d like to visit, but would prefer to stay in a hotel, thank your host profusely for the invitation and tell them you’d love to visit, but are more comfortable staying in your own space

For more expert etiquette tips, head to Nikesha’s website.


Did you use any of our tips to make your summer weekends hosting or staying with friends go seamlessly? Tag us on social media using #casadesuna

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