53 Ways to Be a Good Guest, Whether You’re Staying Awhile or Just Going to a Party

published Oct 3, 2019
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Being a guest in someone’s home encompasses a variety of scenarios—maybe you’re just hanging out and catching up at a friend’s house, maybe your boss invited you over for a dinner, or maybe you’re staying a few nights in someone’s guest room. Whatever the circumstances, you generally want to employ some thoughtfulness and care so that you’re a welcome addition that makes them say, “Wow, having them here made being at home so much better!”

While there’s no such thing as the perfect guest (and we are in no way suggesting that you can or should or must do all of these things), trying some combination of these 53 things—or at least being mindful of them—will go a long way in making you a really good, grateful, and appreciated guest:

Just good guest etiquette for any situation

1. Ask “Do you want me to bring anything?” in advance.

2. If they say no, bring something anyway. Wine is great (if they drink), flowers are lovely (if they aren’t allergic), food is wonderful (make sure they don’t have any dietary restrictions), and a container of their favorite coffee or a small, low-maintenance house plant are pretty much always safe bets.

3. If they REALLY say no and you can tell it’s firm, send them a thank-note note after (you should send them a thank-you whether or not you bring a gift).

4. Don’t bring an uninvited guest.

5. And if you want to bring someone who wasn’t invited, think about these things before you ask if they can come—is this an intimate get-together? Is it for a specific purpose that this outside guest is not part of? Does an outsider somehow change the purpose or intention of things? If the answer is yes to any of these, then probably don’t ask if you can bring a guest. 

6. Ask if they have any house rules before you show up.

7. Bring your own phone charger, just in case.

8. But also, be present! Don’t look at your phone too much.

9. Don’t be late.

10. Or at least keep your host updated if you will be.

11. The same goes if you think you’ll show up early—if you’re running ahead of schedule, check in to see if it’s OK if you show up before they’re totally ready for you.

12. When you get there, ask if they want you to take off your shoes.

13. Say something nice about their home.

14. Don’t approach, pet, or touch your host’s pets unless they come to you first or your host has told you it’s OK.

15. If you see coasters on the table, use them. Better yet, ask if they want you to use a coaster even if you don’t see them on the table.

16. Don’t snoop!!!! That means not opening any closed doors, ever.

17. Always put the lid of the toilet down when you’re finished. No one wants to have a floating phone!

18. If you use the last of the toilet paper, replace it (if a replacement roll is in sight).

19. And bring some matches to cover up any bad odors in the bathroom once you’re done.

20. Clean up little things, like water splashed on the counter after washing your hands or toothpaste in the sink.

21. If you clog the toilet, suck it up and tell them (or use the plunger if there’s one available).

22. Same rule applies if you accidentally break something. And immediately offer to buy them a new one.

23. Don’t put your feet up on the furniture, even if they’re doing it.

24. If you’re visiting a studio apartment, don’t sit on the bed without asking.

25. Don’t smoke inside. Don’t even ask if you can smoke inside, unless you see them do it first.

26. Don’t touch the thermostat, even if you’re freezing or boiling.

27. And in general, avoid complaining. If something (the temperature, brightness, etc. is not to your liking, you can gently ask them to adjust it).

28. Offer to help clean.

29. But if they say no and mean it, then take that as a final answer. Some people like cleaning their own way, and might take it as passive aggression if you clean.

30. No one will be mad if you take out the trash without asking, though.

31. And if it’s not clean to your standards, don’t judge. And DEFINITELY don’t say anything.

32. Turn off the lights when you leave a room.

33. They might not tell you when to leave, but pay attention to their cues—if they start yawning or making references to things they still need to do, take that as a sign for you to start getting ready to go.

34. Always say thank you before you leave!

If you’re staying overnight (or for awhile)

35. Make the bed in the morning.

36. If you slept on a pull-out couch, strip the sheets/fold it back/put back the pillows.

37. And if you use the last of something like their coffee, go out and get (or order) a new one of the same kind.

38. If you’re always cold, bring an extra sweater or blanket or slippers.

39. If you’re picky about things like towels and blankets, bring your own.

40. And bring your own shampoo, so you don’t deplete their resources.

41. If you had the luxury of using a separate bathroom, empty the trash can at the end of your stay.

42. Buy them a meal, whether you’re going out to eat, ordering in, or making food.

43. And/or offer to make breakfast (or at least go on a coffee run/make coffee in their machine if they have one).

44. Let them know your comings and goings.

45. And don’t treat them like a hotel—avoid arriving or leaving too early in the morning or late at night, if you can.

46. Keep the space you sleep and stay in tidy.

47. Don’t assume you’re invited to everything, and have something in mind to keep yourself entertained if they’re busy.

48. If you’re staying with them for a random, fun visit, think of activities you’d like to do with them so that they don’t have to plan your entire trip for you.

49. Follow their rhythms. If they go to bed early, don’t stay up all night with the lights and TV on if it could distract them or keep them awake.

50. Ask what you should do with your sheets in the morning of the day you leave.

51. Ask before you eat their food.

52. Overall, be helpful, but don’t feel like you need to clean and do everything for them.

53. But also, chill. You can’t and won’t be the best or most perfect guest, and that’s OK!