How to be the Perfect Guest

14 Tips for The House Guest

Posted by Liz Taylor May 12, 2011

Visiting Friends or Family This Summer?

Call me a crazy, but I just love a great etiquette question!  Last week, at the end of a class I led on Business Etiquette, a very sharp woman asked me a question that I thought was worth sharing:

“My husband and I are flying to California this summer to visit my former colleague who happens to be a dear friend – Do you have any advice on Etiquette while staying at her home? – I want her to know how much I appreciate her hospitality.”

Well of course I do!  I shared my top tips with her for ensuring that her host appreciates her visit and invites her back again and again.  I want to pass these 14 tips to you too: 

1.)    Show up when you say you are going to.  Arriving 2 hours early could throw off your host, as she is likely preparing for your arrival. Also, showing up late is completely disrespectful of your hosts’ time.  If your plane is delayed, communicate that with your host so she doesn’t take time off of work, and can use the time for her own errands, or even to relax for an extra hour or two.

2.)    Bring your host a gift.  Anything that shows your appreciation: a nice bottle of wine, cupcakes, gourmet chocolate, flowers, etc.

3.)    Throughout your stay, make sure you clean up after yourself: make your bed in the morning, put your dishes in the dishwasher, keep the bathroom that you’re using tidy, etc.

4.)    Do not overstay your visit.  Let your host know when you will be arriving and departing, and do your best to stick to that schedule.

5.)    Don’t take over the house.  And if you have your own bedroom, keep the door open when you are not in it and your suitcase neatly tucked away to the side.

6.)    Be friendly and open to your host’s pets.  If you are allergic to animals, get a hotel room instead.

7.)    Try not to keep your hosts up late.  Being a host can be exhausting and they need a good night’s sleep.  Allow them to wind down at night, and always remember that you can catch up more in the morning. 

8.)    Hygiene is VITAL.  Keep yourself clean, shower daily, be aware of body odor, etc.

9.)    Don’t expect them to bare extra costs.  If your host picked you up and/or dropped you off a large distance, made elaborate meals for you, or shared a good amount of their liquor with you, it is more than appropriate to offer to pick up their tank of gas, take them out for dinner, make a “liquor run” for them, etc.  They will be very appreciative.   

10.) What comes around goes around. When your hosts want to stay with you the next time around, remember certain things: did they cook meals for you in their home? If so, this is a clue that you should reciprocate. Or, if your host took you out to eat for every meal that is certainly what you should do when they come to visit you.

11.) Be appreciative of your hosts’ local favorites: their town, offerings, food and anything else that they share with you.  People have a lot of pride for where they live and appreciate when you do too.

12.) Always leave/send a Thank You gift along with a hand written Thank You letter. It can be a bouquet of flowers, nice bottle of wine, chocolates, coffee table book- something that mirrors your hosts’ tastes that you know they will enjoy.

13.) You break it, you buy it.  If you break anything (I mean even the smallest little item), make sure you get a replacement (even if your host tells you to not worry about it). Your host will act like it’s not a big deal, but many hosts get very upset when a guest breaks things in their home. If you spill red wine on the carpet, hire a carpet cleaner to clean the carpets as soon as possible.

14.) Help with the clean-up.  Strip your bedding before leaving and gather your used towels. Re-make your bed (even though there aren’t any sheets on the mattress).

Keep these tips on hand as you travel throughout the summer.  And as always, please feel free to contact us directly should any other questions come up.  We’re here to help! 

← Back to all posts


“How refreshing and timely. From the texting generation to the baby boomers—the art of etiquette is sadly disappearing. Whether you just need a touch-up or a full immersion, Liz, is the person to teach you the skills to appear confident, elegant and professional in any business situation. Her energetic and engaging style will make this one of the most enjoyable seminars you have ever taken! Liz is awesome!”

—Chuck Bokar, Principal, Design Resource Center

“Absolutely superb! Liz has an amazing knack for presenting her concepts in a thought-provoking and clear style. Her ideas and suggestions would enhance anyone's ability to bridge the gap between business and etiquette. She clearly has a deep understanding of not only the topic, but the thought processes that go into creating better interpersonal relationships out of socially awkward situations. I highly recommend her and her coursework...she will help your business!”

—Brad Guck, District Manager, Administaff

“Liz, Thank you so much for coming to Indianapolis to help us grow our skills as professionals and as people. Your presentation helped us address issues with grace, candor, sensitivity – as well as fun! You were fabulous!”

—Betsy Hamlett, Director of Sales for Kenra, Ltd.

All testimonials...