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Choosing Great Houseguests

Elena Mauer
Choosing Great Houseguests
Having a messy, unruly or unexpectedly extended guest in your home can be disruptive and stressful—especially during the craziness of the holiday season. So how do you know who to ask to spend the night (and to whom you should politely decline an invite)? Check for these four signs:
  • 1. They know when they’re leaving—and it’s soon.


  • Before allowing anyone to become an overnight guest, you should have a chat about exact dates for the stay. “If someone says they’re unsure what day their stay will end, that’s a red flag,” says Daniel Post Senning, author of Emily Post’s Manners in a Digital World and spokesperson for the Emily Post Institute. Their visit could end up being a lot longer than you had in mind. Another issue to consider is whether the stay will be long enough to derail your own routine. So stick to the three-day rule: “After about three days, having a guest around starts to interfere with your workweek or with other plans you have,” says Senning.


  • 2. They’re generous.


  • Having a guest around doesn’t usually break the bank, but it does cost you some money. And we’re not saying that you should require guests to bring along a hostess gift or take you out for dinner during their stay. But the best guests do those things—they offer to split the tab for lunch, they stop at the store during the stay to restock a few kitchen staples, or they fill up your gas tank when they borrow the car, says Senning.


  • 3. They’re neat.


  • You don’t want to spend the whole visit cleaning up after your guest, so if you know your friend is a slob, she might not be the right person to have overnight. But that type-A friend who wouldn’t dare leave a sock on the floor? She’ll be low-maintenance. As Senning notes: “A great guest goes above and beyond, keeping things neat—and at the end of the stay even takes the sheets off the bed, puts them in the hamper, and remakes it with the cover on it.”


  • 4. They know how to have screen-free time.


  • Overnight guests are supposed to be fun to have around—they’re not supposed to lock themselves away to do work, or to be on social media for most of the stay. So Senning suggests you avoid having a guest who’s usually glued to her tablet or who takes work calls constantly, or you might start to feel like she’s just using you for your WiFi. You won’t get much quality time with that guest, and, you might even feel a little like you have to tiptoe around her so as not to disrupt her work.
  • Once you know who the right person to invite is, go ahead and extend an invitation. After all, the holidays are about spending time with family and friends—and having them stay with you (without the mess and the bad manners) can be a lot of fun!

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