The art of being a good houseguest

Washington Post
Friday, June 16, 2017

The arrival of summer marks the beginning of houseguest season.

Whether you have a private bedroom and bath or you’re sharing a wobbly futon with a cat, being a gracious guest is the key to a good experience for all.

Here are ideas on the art of being a good guest.

Bring a nice gift

The best things to buy are food, entertaining supplies, flowers or wine. A luxurious scented candle is also ago-to gift choices. Try to spot something the house could need, whether steak knives or a new toaster, so next year you can bring that for a present.

Keep bathroom clean

Many weekend houses have shared baths. It’s appreciated if you hang the bath mat over the shower or tub after using it, wipe off any water you’ve splashed on the floor and clean out the sink so the next guest can have a pleasant experience. Remove any soap scum or hair from the shower drain. Ask where you should hang your wet towels. Keep your grooming products in your bedroom, not scattered around the bathroom.

Help with chores

Don’t sit there and expect to be served as if you’re at a restaurant. Hosts appreciate your clearing plates from the table, emptying the dishwasher, taking out the trash and stripping the bed when you leave. Set up the coffee for the next day.

Don’t sneer at microwave bacon

When you’re a guest, you get to know your hosts on a different level. They may not buy the same kinds of foods as you do. So if they stock only skim milk for coffee and you want half and half, just go with it or bring your own. If they use bottled salad dressing and you make yours from scratch, don’t comment. So what if they zap their Oscar Mayer instead of frying it? Just be grateful you’re getting a home-cooked breakfast.