One of the best things about the holiday season is stuffing a favorite pair of flannel pjs in a weekender and hitting the road. It’s the time of year many of us find ourselves en route to the in-laws’ cabin, the favorite cousin’s home, or the old college friend’s apartment. Quality time aside, staying overnight is also a great opportunity to show love to the people you care about, and even to charm that future mother-in-law. Before writing this story, I broke out my old 16th edition copy of “Emily Post’s Etiquette” to brush up on my good guest graces. Though it’s probably time for me to invest in a newer edition (“Don’t use the telephone without permission,”) the vast majority of Emily’s advice still rings true today. We took inspiration from her (and added in a few ideas of our own) to create this modern list of ten easy ways to be a great guest this holiday season. Follow these simple guidelines to ensure that you’ll be invited back, again and again. Happy holidays!

1. Communicate your schedule clearly before the visit begins.

Let your hosts know not only when you will arrive, but when you plan to depart as well. If you intend to take them out to dinner, or have other social or business obligations during the visit, communicate those plans clearly so they can arrange their schedules accordingly.

photo by collage vintage

2. Leave the pets at home.

We know. EVERYONE who meets Fluffums him loves him — we would never argue that. But it’s best to avoid asking if you can bring pets with you as overnight guests. There are a myriad of reasons, from allergies to incompatibility between animals, that it’s most considerate to make other arrangements for your pet while you are staying in someone’s home.

image via pinterest

3. Arrive bearing gifts.

It doesn’t have to be anything expensive, but a small hostess gift (and maybe a little something for the kids) shows that you’re appreciative and have been looking forward to the visit. A bottle of wine, cute box of note cards, or even a small potted succulent are all great hostess gifts.

image via pinterest

4. Ask before you instagram.

You should always ask before sharing photos of someone’s home (and especially their children) on social media. Some people may prefer to keep their home life private.

dresses by bonpoint for ladida

5. Adapt to your host’s sleeping schedule.

When it comes to bedtimes and mornings, try your hardest to get on the same schedule as your host. You don’t want them having to tip-toe around their own home because you’re still sleeping in, or losing sleep at night because you’re banging around the kitchen.

image via cb natural living

6. Use coasters.

What’s the easiest way to never be invited back to someone’s house? Leave a ring on a piece of furniture. Always use a coaster and if you can’t find one, ask for one. Don’t grab a nice coffee table book and use that instead.

glimmer ring coasters from anthropolgie

7. Always make the bed.

Ask your hostess what she’d like you do with the sheets on your bed. She’ll undoubtedly say, “Oh just leave it. Don’t bother with it — I’ll wash them later.” But you should STILL always make the bed! And if you want extra bonus points, take the sheets off first and fold them neatly at the foot of the bed, then make the bed up anyways.

aerin lauder’s toile bedroom by the mendelson group

8. Leave the bathroom cleaner than you found it.

It takes two seconds to wipe down a counter and make sure there’s no toothpaste in the sink. Make sure that trash is in the trash can, and dirty towels are hanging or in a hamper before you leave your friend’s home.

bathroom designed by amber lewis

9. Never overstay.

This is probably the most basic rule of being a great house guest. Make sure you and your host have communicated clearly about the length of your stay and stick to the plan. As a host, there’s nothing worse than feeling completely out-of-control of your own home and schedule because you have a guest who just won’t leave. Arrive on time and leave on time as well. It’s the best way to make sure you’ll be invited back again!

mason bag by sole society

10. Don’t forget to say thanks!

Of course you’ll say “thanks” in person when it’s time to leave, but it means even more to follow up a day or two later and let your host know what a great time you had. If you stayed with a close friend or family member, a simple text or email will do. But it’s never wrong (and always lovely) to send a hand-written thank you note after a wonderful weekend.

Happy holidays!

photo by kathryn mccrary

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Comments (7)
  1. 1
    Ann Robie (AnnRobieFashion) November 4, 2015 at 12:48 pm

    Definitely great rules! I also always offer my help with something around the house /kitchen despite my guest status

  2. 2
    Andrea November 4, 2015 at 2:00 pm

    I think my copy of “Emily Post’s Etiquette” is the 15th edition. Hee hee. I know I love it when a guest “strips” the bed as my mother would say.

  3. 3
    Marife Roman November 4, 2015 at 3:04 pm

    Great tips! It’s nice to read the other side (the guest’s behavior) rather than the host’s, since it goes both ways.

  4. 4
    Emily L November 23, 2015 at 9:07 am

    I completely agree with the coaster tip. I have several pieces of antique furniture and leave coasters everywhere, yet often guests STILL do not use them! Another good tip I read recently was olive oil as a hostess gift rather than wine. It can save you from the surprise pregnancy announcement too!

  5. 5
    Julie November 19, 2016 at 10:28 am

    Well done. We have frequent house guests! The coasters are a big one for me! How can I conicidently get this list in my parents inbox? 😉

  6. 6
    Deb May 14, 2019 at 10:33 am

    I have always loved when my guest feels COMFORTABLE but not be a jerk. Meaning, learn where the coffee cups are, the snack plates, the condiments, sandwich stuff and fruits, etc. so, help yourself. Drink’s of all kinds, as well. Move around the house at will. Be tolerant of my pets and farm living. We have dirt in places you may not ever have dirt, poop outdoors where you might have to watch your step and all our animals have to be attended to. No offense. Please try to go along with our life and relax. We have nothing you can’t know about and welcome you! That makes ME more comfortable. ??