How to Be the Perfect Houseguest (or Host)

Houseguests‘Tis the most stressful time of the year. If your plans include being a houseguest — or hosting friends and family — here are a few quick tips to help you be your best.

For Houseguests

1. Ask about ground rules in advance.

Maybe you love your body spritz while someone in your host household is allergic to fragrances, or maybe they’ve recently gone vegetarian while you’re trying to do keto, or maybe drinking alcohol has been banished while a glass of wine is your nightly destressing ritual. Know what to expect. If you have special needs like food allergies, let your hosts know in advance as well.

2. Don’t treat your stay like a hotel.

Make your bed, tidy up after yourself, don’t leave your stuff scattered around — your hosts have enough to do without you adding to the chaos. And while some hosts may provide hygienic supplies like shampoo and toothpaste, don’t expect it.

Houseguests3. Be helpful and lend a hand.

Offer to help with holiday preparations or daily chores. A frazzled hostess will appreciate even simple gestures like setting up the table or peeling potatoes. And if you offer to cook an entire meal (and shop for your own ingredients), you bet you’ll be welcome back any time.

4. Be ready to entertain yourself.

You’re not heading to a vacation resort. Come prepared to fend off your own boredom (and keep your kids busy and well-behaved). Bring books and games, research fun local activities, catch up on last-minute shopping, enjoy local sights, etc. If your hosts do offer to play tour guide, graciously accept.

5. Bring a gift or two.

If you’re coming from another part of the country, bring something made locally or tied to the region. You could, of course, buy a locally made sweet treat or wine, but a homemade regional specialty would make the gift even more special.

HouseguestsFor Hosts

1. Create a welcome vibe.

Your guests will likely feel like they’re imposing, so make them feel welcome. Add homey or holiday touches to their temporary quarters, give them a quick tour, and provide extras like movies to watch or magazines to read.

2. Offer space for unpacking.

If your guests are there for more than a day, they’ll appreciate having a little room to take out some belongings. Offer a small closet space with a few hangers or an empty drawer so they don’t have to live completely out of their suitcase.

3. Stock up on refreshments.

Whether you’re providing full meals or not, offer snacks and beverages like water, coffee and juice. Leave the snacks in common areas and show your guests where to find the beverages and drinkware.

Houseguests4. Cover the basics.

Make sure you have the extra towels ready and the sheets freshly laundered, and consider what other basic things your guests may need to be comfortable. This may be anything from a small fan and an extra throw (since everyone has different temperature preferences), a reading light, a box of tissues, a small wastebasket, the Wi-Fi password — think of what you may want if you were the guest.

5. Have a loose agenda in mind.

Maybe you want to show off the local destinations while in reality your guests are homebodies, or maybe your guests want to hang out with your while you actually need to be at work for a few hours. Talk about the agenda and daily schedule in advance so there are no surprises on either side.

And whether you’re hosting or visiting, be prepared to compromise and keep communication open. Remember, the holidays are supposed to be about fun and spending time together — so make the most out of it.