How to Be a Good Overnight Guest
For a host, overnight guests are simultaneously a pleasure and a nightmare. There is so much to prepare for; so many t's to cross and i's to dot. Sheets to wash and plates to clear. Dinners to prepare and entertaining to be done. It reminds me a bit of college... waking up all together, drinking coffee, eating leftovers, mapping out a plan for the day. It's truly lovely when planned well and with a lot of thoughtfulness coming from both ends.
Here are the things I find important to remember when you are an overnight guest staying with friends or family:
- Staying with friends or family IS NOT the same as staying at a hotel. Private homes do not have a lobby concierge that is open around the clock. If you are away for vacation and choose to go out till 4AM, please be extremely considerate of how loud you will be jangling your keys through the doorway. And maybe consider adjusting your plans slightly for the host's sake/sanity.
- While you certainly don't need to offer your hosts money for their hospitality, offering to buy them a drink or a treat is very considerate and in my opinion, the right thing to do. They are putting a lot of time and effort into your comfort, and the gesture will be greatly appreciated. If you are staying for an extended period of time (say, a weekend,) consider buying ingredients and making a meal, or taking your host out to dinner. Don't be a moocher and show genuine gratitude for them. These little things are what I would call "the cost of doing business" and in this case, business is life and good friendship.
- Clean up after yourself, even more so then you do in your own home. There is no maid, and there will be no housekeeping crew. Even if you don't make your bed in the morning at home, please do so when you're at a friend's house. All of the little things that might pass as acceptable in your home may not work for the host you're staying with. Try your very best not to leave remnants of yourself all over the place. The bedroom you are staying in is not yours, so keep in mind when you leave for a coffee, your host may pop in to grab something from the closet. It will be quite upsetting for him/her if the place is turned upside down, the pillows they love on the floor, etc. In the kitchen, wash the dishes you use, dry them, and inquire about where to put them back. Sure, your host may immediately take the dishes away from you, but the you must at least offer your help.
- Don't treat my home as a hotel pt2: there is nothing more irritating than a friend who comes into town, only to ask for your couch, and then inform you they have plans with 7 other people that night. It's inappropriate to use a friend's home as a free hotel and not spend any time with them.
- Don't come empty-handed. Even if it's a $10 bottle of wine, a tiny bouquet of flowers, a box of doughnuts in the morning, or a cup of coffee, it is always nice to be treated to something when you've spent so much time, effort, and money preparing for a guest.
- Don't impose your beliefs on your host. For example, if your host is using paper plates, don't comment on how paper plates kill the environment and are a waste of money. Be considerate and kind.
What are your views on these suggestions? What other qualms do you wish you could tell your friends when they stay over? As a host, what are your biggest concerns when hosting for a few days or more? Share your thoughts below!