Star Jones

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Friendship Friday: The Perfect Houseguest

Every year around this time, people start to visit their friends and relatives during summer vacation.  And every year, hosts around the world say "never again" and guests say "what was I thinking." To avoid the old adage:  "Guests are like fish...they start to stink after 3 days."

Here are 8 Steps to being a great you get invited back!

Step 1
Be useful. While you're staying with others, you are using their electricity, their water, their heat and more. Most hosts won't mind, but show them that you realize and appreciate their kindness and their inconvenience by contributing what you can. Whether it's money or just doing the dishes and making your bed, be sure to not only say thank you, but show your gratitude in meaningful ways. Better than doing the dishes or making your bed, why not offer to cook your hosts dinner or make their beds.

Step 2
Show your hosts respect. While you are enjoying their hospitality, it's not a time to show your differences of opinion or habit.  Save the controversial discussions and actions for some other time. If you see things headed down those paths, simply laugh, and say, "I'm so glad we're able to be such good friends and still have the differences that make life interesting." Then change the subject to more neutral ground.

Step 3
Don't disrupt their lives. Adopt the schedule and the routine of the people who are nice enough to share their home with you. Sure, you can have fun on outings together, but be sure you don't ask them to put off important or routine things in their life to entertain or accommodate you. If your host gets up early, make sure you rise and shine with them. If they sleep late, don't make noise or commotion happen until they're ready to start their day. Likewise, if they have different sleep schedules, or if you know you'll be out late and past their bedtime, make sure you know how you can cause the least inconvenience or disturbance when you return.

Step 4
Let everyone have their privacy. Just because you're visiting doesn’t' mean daily life and other personal relationships have changed. Be sure you spend at least one hour every day doing something on your own away from your host's home. If you sense that you or your host needs more than that, take the opportunity to find somewhere else to be for the day. Make sure you won't be needed or that others will have to spend time waiting for you while you're gone.

Step 5
Try not to use things that aren't yours. Let your host know if you need something, but do so in a polite way that doesn't require more of them than they are already offering. Saying, "Can you tell me where I can buy this?" or, "Where can I go to do my laundry?" is a better way of allowing your host to offer without putting them on the spot to give something they cannot afford or do not want to share.

Step 6
Clean your bathroom. No one likes to clean up the bathroom after others. You should definitely do this at least the day you leave, if not every couple of days in between. Keep your bathroom and toiletries in a bag in your room or suitcase between use. Otherwise, ask if there is a corner of the bathroom counter that you can use to keep your personal items, and keep it neat and clean.

Step 7

Don't mess around with the heating or air conditioning settings while you're there. Putting on a sweater if you're cold or lighter clothing if you're warm is a simple way to avoid annoying temperature wars in the house while you're there. Let your host decide if they have enough room in their budget to alter the settings.

Step 8

When you leave, be sure you leave behind a good impression and a hope that you'll return again. A simple gift of a flower and a hug with a big warm "thank you" is probably enough, but let your conscience and your pocketbook be your guide. It is also a nice idea to leave behind an envelope with a bit of cash to help pay for anything you have used during your stay, or as a way of treating your host to a dinner out once you're gone. It takes a special person to open their home to you and offer hospitality. No matter what, say "thank you" to the wonderful people who share their home with you while you're away.

The adage about the fish and the smell may be crude...but it is often true.  The number one thing to remember is that the general rule of being a houseguest  is to stay a maximum of three days. Anything longer than this is likely to start wearing the welcome mat thin, and good houseguests would never want that. Three days of entertaining out-of-town friends or relatives is about all most people can take. End your visit while your hosts are still enjoying your company.


  1. Soror, thx for posting the "Houseguest Rules". Great things for us all to keep in mind.


  2. Now if only you had written this BEFORE my friend tried to move in with me and I had to ask her to leave! She violated rules one THROUGH 8. I was doing her a HUGE favor since she didn't live in NYC anymore and needed a place to stay to take care of some loose ends she hadn't tied up when she left. The worst part was that she would start to get ready to head out on the town when I was getting ready for bed (running the blow dryer and all kinds of nonsense) and then would come in during the middle of the night. She loves my neighborhood because there's so much going on and it's so close to everything. But I lost it when I was leaving for work one morning to find she had left the front door to my apartment OPEN ALL NIGHT! I know my building and neighborhood is very safe, but you never know!

    So, I LOVE these rules! I'm with you on ALL of these rules except one aspect of #8. I think a gift is important, but disagree with the money part. I think I'd be insulted if someone left an envelope with money at my house and it wasn't directed toward my housekeeper. I do agree COMPLETELY that a thoughtful gift is entirely appropriate. But I would say in lieu of money in an envelope, you should take the time to get to know what local favorite restaurant your host likes and get them a gift certificate for a dinner there; or if you know they use a particular product in the house to pick that up as a token of thanks. I think money can be appropriate if your host has frequent help around the house (housekeeper, cook, babysitter, dog walker etc.) who has been additionally caring for you while there but not necessarily compensated extra as a result. But in that instance, I would direct the money toward the indivdual(s).

    Here's to hoping you have a great time with your guests this weekend! I hope they get invited back! :-) If not, invite me next time! ;-)

    Your Tweet-friend,

  3. Interesting. Wow. Can't say I agree with them all, but interesting.


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