I can recall many lessons that my grandmother taught me growing up. Things like: “If you have nothing nice to say—say it later” or “Never go to bed with a dirty kitchen.” All of these one-liners have served me incredibly well in my adult life.
However, the one thing I valued most from my grandmother’s wise words of advice were how to be an exceptional guest in someone’s home. When you are staying with someone who has opened their home to you, it is important to make sure that you are not wearing out your welcome. Below are helpful tidbits to make your host feel like it was worthwhile to have you in their home.
Demonstrate gratitude and appreciation. Upon your arrival, show up with a thoughtful gift! You do not have to lavish them with anything elaborate, but a simple gesture like a bottle of their favorite drink or a bouquet of flowers is enough to say, “I am grateful for your generosity.”
Help. If your host is cooking a meal for you, be sure to offer a helping hand. Ask if you can help chop the food, set the table or pour the wine. If your host refuses your help repeatedly or even threatens to not feed you if you don’t sit down and relax, insist on doing the dishes—and do them! If you are going out for a meal, pay the tab and the tip. Make them feel just as taken care of. Offer to fill up their gas tank if they’re driving you around. Remember, it’s the little things that count!
Be conscientious/think ahead. Do not place unrealistic expectations on your host or compromise their time. Remember that they are people with lives that should be as uninterrupted as possible—unless they have expressed that they are able to accommodate your needs, show you around and spend lots of time with you. If you don’t have a key to their home and plan to stay out late, give them notice or ask them if it’s okay to use a spare for the night. Give them space, and don’t make them feel like inviting you to stay with them has become more of an obligation and a burden.
Respect their space. Don’t go through cabinets, closets or drawers unless they’ve asked you to grab something. Whether you are sleeping on the couch or have your own space in their guestroom, do not leave your things sprawled around in a mass frenzy. On your last day, be sure to tidy up after yourself (strip the bed/pillows, put the sheets in a neat pile and pick up/take out any trash that you may have left behind). It is important to remember that the smallest gestures mean the most to people.
Show more gratitude. After you return home, be sure to drop a handwritten note in the mail thanking them for their wonderful hosting. Be on the lookout for tips on being the exceptional host!
This story was curated by Davinah Simmons.