Do’s and Don’ts for Summer Houseguests

By: Joe Thompson

GuestHouse Mr. Manners' guide to making sure we all get along – and you get invited back
By Steven Petrow

Whether you’ve snagged an overnight guest invitation to a friend’s urban loft or a free week-long stay beachside, you’ll want to be up to speed on the do’s and don’ts for house guests.

As a guest, your job—yes, you have a job!—is to make your stay as low-maintenance as possible for your hosts. That means no demands for 600-thread-count Egyptian cotton sheets or pillows with your preferred mix of down and goose feathers. (If you must sleep with a certain pillow, bring yours with you.) Also, don’t expect your friend’s kitchen to provide meals that suit your every last food preference. It’s one thing if you’re allergic to certain foodstuffs, but think twice before asking for your usual diet of low-carb-lean-protein-grass-fed-wild-organic meals. Remember, you’re not visiting a hotel (or a restaurant), and you’re not paying. You’re a guest!

Now, for some specific pointers:

IStock_000012121110XSmall RSVP promptly.
When you receive an invitation, answer within two or three days. Don’t ask who else is invited; that could give the impression that your response is contingent upon the answer, rather than upon the invitation itself.

Ask what you can bring.
For weekend visits, a couple bottles of wine, a houseplant, or some elegant taper candles will do nicely. Also, ask your hosts when you’re expected to arrive—and to leave!—and don’t be shy about offering to help out during your stay (by shopping for food, preparing a meal, or transporting other guests, for example).

Don’t be a fair-weather friend.
If a storm blows in at the last minute, don’t cancel, because that would look like you valued the beach or the lake more than the company. Bring a board game!

Come as you are.
Single folks shouldn’t ask to bring someone else along. And, if you have a cat or a dog, leave the critter at home unless it’s explicitly invited.

Be adaptable.
Go with the flow, and by “flow” I mean your hosts’ schedule. If they like to eat breakfast at 8 a.m., don’t sleep in until noon. If something’s not to your liking, don’t complain; buck up and smile.

Make sure the visit is a real visit.
Don’t use your hosts’ place as a crash pad, and consult them before you make plans with others. Chances are, most folks will be happy to have a little down time, but do ask.

Donotdisturb Understand the privacy rules.
It’s important to understand the house rules here. You don’t want to bring back a stranger for fun unless you know it’s okay. Likewise, if you're in a relationship, some think it’s disrespectful to have a private pleasurefest in your room when visiting. I think it’s fine as long as you lock the door and are discreet about it. If you want to go crazy, get a hotel room.

Send or email a thank-you.
No matter how well you know your hosts, take the time to thank them, especially for any extra efforts they went to. Email is fine; a short note is better.

Final thoughts.
If you have special needs that could affect a visit, such as medical or personal issues, let your hosts know beforehand. For instance, I have a friend with complications from HIV; whenever possible, he asks for a bedroom with its own bathroom so he won’t disturb others and can keep his meds private. Or, if you’re visiting a friend with pets and you’re allergic to them, feel free to let your host know. It’s okay to ask for the pets to be kept out of your bedroom for a couple of days beforehand and during your stay (but be sure to bring along your own antihistamines).

The bottom line: Don’t be shy about your needs when it comes to your health; but remember, the more you can do to take care of yourself, the better the visit will go for everyone—and the more likely it is that you’ll be invited back.

Stevem Petrow Steven Petrow, a contributor to the Huffington Post and Yahoo! Shine, is the author of Steven Petrow’s Complete Gay & Lesbian Manners and can be found online at




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