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How to Be a Good Guest

Colleen Dowd
How to Be a Good Guest
They may say “make yourself at home” when you arrive, but the truth is, a really polite guest won’t take that too literally If you want to make them glad they invited you, here’s what you really need to do.
  • RSVP—ASAP: Whether you can attend or not, respond to your host’s invitation as soon as you can. And if your plans change, let your hosts know right away.


  • Tell time: If the invitation doesn’t include a specific arrival time (common when you’re staying overnight), tell your hosts when you will show up and when you’ll leave. This will allow them to arrange their own schedules.


  • Be punctual: Arrive on time. Showing up too early may interfere with your host’s set-up time; showing up too late may interfere the meal or planned activities.


  • Bring a gift: Bring a host- or hostess gift—it doesn’t have to be extravagant. Great ideas are items the host can use during your visit, like flowers, a bottle of wine, a candle, or set of hand soaps.


  • Be flexible: When will you eat? What time do you go to sleep? What’s on the menu for lunch? Remember that you’re in your hosts’ world, so adjust to their habits and routines as much as you can.


  • Help out: Whether you’re there for hours or days, you’ll win points by lending a hand. You can bring food if you are invited for a meal or a holiday celebration (ask what fits with menu). Once you’re there, you can pitch in by clearing the table, running an errand, or just stripping your bed before you go home.


  • Keep it together: This one’s especially important for overnight guests—leave the space the way you found it. And while you’re there, make sure to make up the bed and keep your personal belongs in one spot—not scattered all over the guestroom.


  • Don’t make assumptions: One secret of the universe is that no two remotes work the same way. So consult with your host before you change that channel, help yourself to something to eat, or use an appliance or other electronic gear.


  • Leave on time: If you had a specific departure time, stick to it! If not, gauge when other guests are leaving a follow suit.


  • Send a thank you: Make sure the host knows that you appreciated them opening their home to you. You can send a hand-written note or call them the next day to thank them for having you over. Emailing your photos from the party is a great idea too.

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