A widely utilized, well-meaning phrase, “Mi casa es su casa” is a fun way to extend a welcoming greeting to a guest, friend or acquaintance as they arrive and settle into your home. Intended as it is to make people feel comfortable and relaxed in an unknown place, good house guests know that there are certain boundaries that come with the “mi casa es su casa” invitation (some people will take it literally and stay at your house unbeknownst to you while you are on vacation!)
As with most everything in life, it always takes some time and experience to learn not just the art of being a good host, but also – and more importantly – the rules and etiquette for being a good guest. In fact, it is not necessarily the experience of being a guest that teaches, but rather that of being a host that instructs one on how to be the kind of guest who is pleasant and easy to have around.
Indeed, the host-guest, guest-host relationship is like a simple mathematical equation: the perfect host combined with the perfect guest equals a pleasant memory. As Pamela Fiori writes in the introduction to Town and Country’s book Social Graces:
“Why should we care about good manners and proper behavior in the first place? Because they smooth the path. Civil obedience, if you will, makes life infinitely easier and more pleasant for everybody concerned.”
In over thirty years of welcoming people into our home, the art of being a gracious host and a good guest has become a well practiced and instinctual one that leaves one a little wiser to the do’s and don’ts, concerning both big and small things.
Summer is a season of many things, from weddings and picnics to family outings and reunions. It is also considered the “high” season for hosting guests. Accordingly, as Lizzie Post, the great- great- granddaughter of Emily Post and the etiquette expert at the Emily Post Institute, says in the Wall Street Journal article on how to be the perfect houseguest, “Being aware of how you’re going to impact the host and the house you are going to visit is very important.”
And so, ATG puts forth an end of the summer question that is worth reflecting on: “Have you been a good guest where you have been invited for a summer stay?”
Find out with the “Good Guest Checklist” below, which is a good preliminary guide to becoming the perfect guest who always gets invited back.
Please note that the below checklist is a combination of our recommendations and Lizzie Post’s via the Wall Street Journal article: “Lizzie Post On How To Be The Perfect Houseguest.”
Good Guest Checklist
- Remember to think of the house as a home – a home that your host and hostess have considerately and lovingly invited you into to share.
- Learn to be a “low-impact” guest – i.e. “the best house guests leave no trail.”
- Make sure your room looks tidy and put away – i.e. make the bed, do not leave clothing strewn about and keep your toiletries tidy in an unobtrusive place.
- Do not help yourself to things, always ask or wait to be offered.
- If at the beach ALWAYS remove shoes and hose off sandy feet before entering the house.
- Always hang up wet towels – never leave them on the bed or furniture.
- Never place luggage or big bulky items on furniture of any kind. Luggage, big bags and purses should be placed out of the way in a corner.
- Always bring a hostess gift – i.e. a beautiful vase with flowers, wine, chocolates, coffee table books – anything that reflects some thought and consideration to the host and hostess.
- Step up to the plate and help in some fashion, especially at meal time whether it is setting the table, fixing the appetizer plate or helping to do the dishes after the meal.
- Always write a thank you note, even if you expressed your gratitude before you departed.