Summer is usually the social season for catching up with friends, impromptu dinner parties and short breaks away with other families.
Staying with and having friends to stay can test even the strongest friendships and is usually reciprocal. So by learning to be a great guest we also learn what makes a good host.
So to keep your friendships in tact and ensure you are invited back, here are our 5 ways to being a great guest.
Fish and Guests smell in three days – Benjamin Franklin
1. BE CLEAR AND CONSIDERATE
- Being a great guest starts even before you arrive. Try to reply to any invitation promptly and don’t be vague about timings. Confirm your approximate arrival and leaving times.
- Do not bang on about how you’re going to get there, the trouble with babysitters etc. Talking of which, NEVER turn up with a friend, a new boyfriend, a pet or a child without prior invitation.
- Never show up to stay unannounced. You may think it spontaneous and fun…they will probably think it bloody inconvenient.
- Leave when you said you would. ‘After breakfast’ on Sunday is not 3pm.
- Always take a gift (see below for what and what not to gift). Never turn up empty-handed unless you are visiting the house of someone you know really well. Saying “Sorry, I ran out of time” or “I didn’t know what to get you” is inexcusable. These people will be feeding and watering you for many meals as well as giving you a bed. Be generous.
- Blood relations apart, don’t use any of your hosts’ toiletries or expensive bath oils (Yes, we know, we know!). If you have actually forgotten to pack your toothbrush or shampoo then ask discreetly where you can buy some locally. Your hosts will no doubt be perfectly happy to lend you some, but you’ve at least shown willing.
- Also, refrain from eating the leftovers or finishing the milk without flagging it up.
- When you arrive, throw out a compliment about the house. If it’s awful then dig deep and find something to like. Lie if you have to but NEVER keep quiet, especially if it’s the first time you have been to someone’s house. If you ache with jealousy then be honest and admit it.
- It’s the rule of 3. Thank your host three times: When you arrive, when you’re leaving the house and after you’ve left with a thank you note. If you are invited by text, you may reply by text but a handwritten note always makes a lovely thought and it will leave a warm fuzzy feeling when they see it, reminding them to ask you again. (Unfortunately even if you’ve had an awful time you still need to thank unless you really don’t want to see them again in case this can be a good strategy.)
3. FOLLOW THE HOUSE RULES
- When you arrive, ask about house rules to avoid any misunderstandings. What time is breakfast? Shoes off or on? Smoking permitted outside? Don’t ask for the heating to be turned up/turned down unless you are literally going to die of cold/faint.
- If you do drink lots of tea/coffee, ask if you can be shown how to make your own and offer to make for everyone else too. Try and use the same cup each time rather than work yourself through their cupboards.
- Do not have a complicated, indulgent list of what you or your children won’t eat. Unless you are severely allergic to something, just be quiet and avoid it. Do not – ever – say the words “gluten-free or eating clean” unless you are a Cealiac. If you want a menu, go to a restaurant and pay for it.
- If you break something or spill something tell the host straight away. Don’t let them find it after you’ve gone. That’s baaaadddd!!!
4. BE HELPFUL
- Good guests keep their own area clean and tidy but great guests offer to help whether it is laying the table, clearing or fixing a round of drinks. Offer to help. Lots. Even if you’re turned down, your hosts will appreciate the gesture.
- Ask their hosts if you should strip the bed before you leave. (They will always say no but will love it if you do.)
5. BE APPROPRIATE
- Okay, This is a big one. It’s lovely that you come from a ‘naked’ family but no one wants to share that with you. Remember to cover up whilst walking to/from the bathrooms and do not change into your mini-nightie and float around the kitchen getting a late night glass of water. Always err on the side of modesty.
- Occupy yourself. Great guests do not expect to be entertained constantly and are independent to a point.
- If you are staying for more than three days (which you really shouldn’t by the way) call up other friends who are nearby or do some exploring on your own. Let your hosts know your plans and when you think you will get back.
- Do not spend the whole time you are there on your phone or your iPad. You might be terribly important at work but they don’t care.
- Try not to argue with your partner, children or upset anyone else in the party. Do not bang on about politics, religion or your love life.
- If you are a bad drunk, don’t drink. If you are a good drunk then take loads of booze.
If you get an invite back, you’ll know you’re a great guest.
TOP 5 PRESENTS A GUEST SHOULD GIVE
- An excellent bottle of wine or Champagne with a personal recommendation that you thought the host would enjoy it
- A beautiful plant or bouquet of flowers
- Luxury hand-made chocolates in beautiful wrapping
- A beautiful scented candle from Jo Malone or similar (see Peppermint Grove)
- Anything that has been personally chosen (if you know the host well)
TOP 5 PRESENTS A GUEST SHOULD NOT GIVE.
- Any food stuffs left from your own fridge. They don’t want your leftovers unless it is a truffle, shipped from Italy.
- Any wilting flowers or chocolates from the train station/local garage unless it’s ironic.
- Anything crafty and homemade from you or your children as it’s likely to end up in the bin.
- No branded soaps and toiletries. They have to be special.
- Anything re-gifted. There is always a danger your host gave it to you. (big blush!)