We've covered the topic of how to make overnight guests feel welcome and cared for. But what about when you're the guest? I've had many people stay in my home, from family to friends of friends I'd never met before. Here are some things that make me feel cared for as someone who lets others into my home, and what I try to keep in mind when I'm the guest.
Keep your belongings, neatly, in your room.
As someone who aspires, at least, to keep her house in order, I really appreciate it when my guests do their best to keep their suitcases and extra belongings in their designated areas. Of course, items like coats and shoes (which we don't wear in the house), are left out, and I am happy when guests take it upon themselves to notice where they belong and put them there.
Take care of your own special needs.
If your hostess asks about things you can't (or prefer not to) eat, it's okay to be honest— to a point. But if you have specific dietary or health needs, it's nice to take care of them yourself rather than expecting your hostess to learn about and provide for your needs. For instance, before I was more familiar with gluten-free diets and before gluten-free alternatives were ubiquitous, a houseguest of mine brought her own gluten-free pasta. I appreciated her foresight and consideration — and that, for the sake of my preparations, she told me she would do this beforehand.
Try to notice the rhythms and rituals of your hosts. If their habit is to sit and eat around the table together, join them rather than grazing, even if that's what you're used to. If your hosts enjoy conversation once all the kids are down, spend some time with them even if all you want to do is go to bed yourself! On the other hand, if you know your hosts go to bed earlier than you do, assure them that you're fine up on your own or even retreat to your space so your hosts feel comfortable leaving the common area as well.
Strip the sheets.
This could depend on how well you know your hosts, but this act, to me, shows a thoughtfulness about the practical side of having houseguests and a willingness to help however possible — and this means a lot. If you're not on a do-my-laundry-in-your-washer level of familiarity, leave the bed linens and towels in a tidy pile. Otherwise, if you can swing it, do the sheets and put them back on the bed. My mother always does this, and recent houseguests did this for me and what a relief! How nice to leave your host's place even better than when you got there.
How do you practice being a good guest?