As I begin this post, I am reminded of my grandma. She was the most gracious hostess I have ever met in my life. I, and many others would surely call her the queen of hosting. Grandma taught me and my family members to always have our doors open to all. Her wish for us was, “may your home always be blessed with many guests and may you always have a bounty of food on your table to share with them.” I didn’t understand it then, but now I know what she meant. Her wish was to raise kind-hearted individuals who knew the meaning of acceptance, kindness and sharing the gifts of this life with others. She preached that as the true meaning of happiness.
When we talk about entertaining, we always talk about being a gracious host but rarely discuss the merits of being a perfect house guest. Through many years of hosting, I have had the privilege of having many fantastic visitors. All of them, in their own unique and kind ways, have taught me so much about what it means to be a good house guest. I am sure you all are the kind of guests that hosts would invite back anytime. But if you want to up your “guest game”, start with the list below. There might be some ideas here that you haven’t thought of before.
First and foremost, contact your host to see if he or she is available to have a house guest for the duration of your stay. If you are bringing another person with you, make it clear. Ask your host if that works for them and their space. Once you book your trip, make sure your host knows exactly what day and time you will be arriving, leaving and how you will be getting there. Unless it’s a last-minute trip, it is best for your host to know about your plans in advance so they have time to prepare for you. If there are any changes or delays in your plans, update your host and stay in touch with the details.
A Gesture of Gratitude
Bring your host a gift as a token of your appreciation. It doesn’t have to be anything big. It’s the thought that counts, after all. Candles, homemade jams, bath bombs or anything that has a personal touch and says I thought of you, is the perfect gift. Making these changes could be as simple as checking out sites like https://www.grainandgram.com to buy a selection of essential oils and candles to place around your home. Who doesn’t love walking into a place that smells good? First impressions are key, especially if you’re having someone new stay over. One of my friends once brought me a set of 4 coasters which could each hold a picture inside. He printed some pictures of our shared memories and put them inside the coaster frames. The gift was very sweet by itself but that touch of care and the extra mile he went to make it personal did mean the world to me. To this day, every time I see the coaster set, it warms my heart, I smile and think of my friend.
Respect the House Rules
Our home is our sanctuary. Remember that your host is willing to share this sanctuary with you, should you respect that. There are many things you can take note of during your stay, like taking off your shoes. If there is a situation you are unsure about, just ask. Some people are easy going and some less so. You will know very quickly what category your host falls in if you are paying attention. Adjust your habits for the few days that you are sharing their space and they may just be willing to invite you back again!
Be in Charge of Yourself
Your host is not responsible for feeding or entertaining you. Make accommodations for meals and snacks. Ask your host if you can use the refrigerator and don’t forget to label your leftovers so they don’t accidentally get eaten. Remember that if you are traveling for pleasure, you are on vacation, but your host is not. They may still have to go to work and take care of their daily tasks. Likely your host will do anything to ensure you have a good time and they will spend as much time as they can with you. Be appreciative of their effort and respect their time and schedule.
Get Involved and Help
Ask your host how you can help out. From setting the table, doing the dishes, walking the dog, cooking or even picking up their dry cleaning on your way back from a walk, do as much as you can. Your host had to sacrifice time to prepare for you, help them out by saving them some time or taking care of them a little. Every little thing counts.
Clean Up After Yourself
This is one that our parents tried to teach us when we were growing up. Make your bed, clean the bathroom sink after you shave, take your dirty dishes to the kitchen and so on. Make sure you leave the place as clean as you found it. I always ask the host what they want me to do with dirty towels and sheets on the day of my departure. Some tell me to leave it as is and some say just toss it in the laundry. No one likes a messy guest!
Say Thank You
After your trip makes sure you call, text or send an actual thank you note to share your sincere appreciation. Receiving those cards always brightens my day. I have had a few friends leave me to thank you cards the day they leave. They were left in the guest room, next to the coffeemaker or on my bathroom mirror. These notes were the best surprises and, in most cases, I’ve found them within a few hours of their departure. It made me miss them and look back fondly on their stay. You can always send or leave a little gift behind too. No matter how you do it, just be sure that you thank your host for all that they have done for you.
Now that you have your bags packed and are ready to be the perfect house guest, I hope wherever you go you find happiness, leaving love and light in the heart of your host!