There’s nothing like having a house full of guests to throw even the most organized host or hostess off his/her game. And while all of us have experienced both ends of the spectrum (good and bad), I’m happy to say most of my friends fit the “good” guest category.

But that’s not always the case, as far too many people leave their manners home when visiting others. To keep the peace, it’s important to lay down rules in advance – if they don’t like them, they can stay in a hotel.

The “bad” guest horror stories never end. A friend volunteered her “to don’t” list, which includes among other insightful suggestions; not inviting yourself to visit and then, while visiting, inviting yourself to visit again; don’t insist on visiting when the hosts have other guests or are leaving town the next day; don’t swim naked in your hosts’ pool and please, don’t invite yourself for a visit and show up with your girlfriend (boyfriend) when you are married to someone else, or worse, come with your spouse and sneak off to call your girl/boyfriend. Following are a few thoughts to make being a guest and/or host an enjoyable experience – for everyone!

  • A good host will ask his/her guest if he or she has any dietary needs or preferences; a good guest will answer truthfully, keeping the list to a minimum.
  • A good host will ask his/her guest if he or she has any allergies, such as to down feathered pillows; a good guest will bring his/her own pillow.
  • A good host will provide clean sheets and towels, a hair dryer and a few basic toiletries; a good guest will leave these items behind at the end of their stay.
  • A good host will straighten-up the guest room and bathroom in anticipation of company; a good guest will clean up after himself/herself, including changing the sheets and cleaning the bathroom before they leave.
  • A good host will provide a small pitcher of water and a glass so his/her guests don’t have to run to the kitchen in the middle of the night in their pajamas or negligée, or naked; a good guest will wear a robe!
  • A good host will prepare a small basket for his/her guests, which includes an assortment of cords, cables and plugs for myriad small electronic devices, as well as a foreign adaptor plug set.
  • A good host will provide his/her guests with the Wi-Fi password, if requested.
  • A good host will offer to pick his/her guest up at the airport; a good guest will make his/her own transportation arrangements.
  • A good guest will rent his/her own car while visiting, but should the hosts insist upon loaning their guests a car, the guests will fill the tank with gas AND have the car professionally washed.


  1. Don’t invite yourself for a visit. Wait to be invited.
  1. Don’t show up with a gift you think will look great in your hosts’ home, instead come bearing gifts that are perishable, such as an extravagant box of chocolates from a local artisan chocolatier; a bottle of gorgeous olive oil, or better yet, a ridiculously expensive bottle of wine.
  1. Do not, under any circumstances, use your host’s/hostess’s computer without asking and do not use your host’s/hostess’s phone to make long distance calls.
  1. Do not smoke in your hosts’ home and if you do (with their permission of course), don’t leave your nasty cigarette butts in a water-filled Ziploc bag on the lanai.
  1. Do not leave your personal items all over the place.
  1. Do not snoop.
  1. Do not complain to other friends that your hosts didn’t entertain you, especially if you invited yourself.
  1. Do not complain that given the price of an airline ticket, a 3-night visit isn’t long enough.
  1. Do not fight with your husband (wife, boyfriend, girlfriend, significant other or partner) in front of your hosts and then ask them to take sides.
  1. Do not stay for a week and not offer to purchase some food and/or wine or take your hosts out for dinner.
  1. Do not come for one night and spend it in your room with a love interest.
  1. Do not take over the TV and music system with your personal choices.
  1. Do not expect to be waited on.
  1. Don’t bring your pet to visit and if you do and your pet soils the carpet, be prepared to leave a minimum of $175 to cover the cost of having the carpet cleaned.
  1. Do not remove your make-up with your host’s washcloths or towels.
  1. Do not leave wet towels on the floor or bed!


  1. Come for a visit, one time, for no more than 3 nights.  If you want to return, get a hotel room.
  1. Rent your own car.
  1. Keep yourself busy.  This is your hosts’ home and not a resort.
  1. Invite your hosts to visit you.
  1. Offer to help with the cooking or clean up and offer to take your hosts out to dinner.
  1. Send a “real” thank you note and not an e-mail thank you.