Are you a good houseguest?


In Tropica it’s always guest season. Living in a vacation destination means a lot of houseguests. I enjoy picking people up at the airport and having the stimulation and fun of visitors.

Being a good houseguest is an art, but it can also be a learned skill. If you have friends living in interesting places, and you are lucky enough to be invited to stay, it means you can travel all the more. So it behooves you to treat your hostess like the treasure she is.

First rule of course, is never invite yourself. If you do get invited to stay, you need to make a decision. Do you prefer the privacy and freedom of a hotel, or the company of your hostess and the obligations that go with being a guest.  Yes, being a guest isn’t free. Only if you’re willing to be a great houseguest, accept the invitation.

You want to be the houseguest who is so refreshing to have around that you get invited back. You want to be helpful, not a handful. You want to be easy to be around. You need to know when to disappear, either into your room or out for the day to give your hostess some privacy and time of her own to continue on with her life. Mostly, you need to equal your hostess’ generosity with your own generosity.

Your generosity begins with a hostess gift and ends with a thank you note. Be creative and thoughtful. Of course you’ll take your hostess out for a special dinner dinner, but also for casual lunches, or coffees if you’re scooting around together. If she’s taking the time, doing the driving, paying for the gas, she deserves to be treated like a princess.

Then, there’s the generosity of your time and energy. Don’t be dead weight. Being a good houseguest is work. If you want to relax, check into a hotel. The guest should be offering to make her hostess a cup of tea instead of the other way around. The guest shouldn’t be using all the ice cubes and not making more trays. The guest should be offering to cook dinner and asking how she can make her own coffee in the morning so as not to be a drag.

Don’t expect to be waited on, or for meals to appear, and dishes to get done. Don’t wait to be asked to help around the house. If you see dishes, do them. Make your bed. Don’t leave water puddles on the bathroom floor or around the sink. It’s not a hotel. Don’t disappear into your room whilst your hostess is preparing for a dinner party in your honor. Start the clean up afterwards without being asked.

The best guest is one that you don’t “feel.” The guest who knows how to sit in the living room with a book or her knitting and not need to be entertained or looked after.

Offer. Offer. Offer. I treat my hostess as much as she will let me. After all, she has opened her home to me, set up the guest room, stocked the house with food and spirits. I’m happy to spring for meals out and cafes. If she orders take out, I offer my cc. If we’re at the grocery, my cc is ready. I always offer to pay for gas when we’re at the pump. Your hostess, if she’s like me, will probably say no, most, or all of the time. It’s your offer that counts.

I think taking someone into your home and offering them shelter is one of the kindest things there is in life. I am beyond grateful when someone invites me to stay. I adore being a hostess, making my houseguest feel pampered as I see to the details of fresh linens, fluffy towels, interesting bedside books I think my guest will enjoy, toiletries, a basket of specifically chosen snacks (nuts and berries for one guest; cookies and crisps for another), a tea and coffee station set up so she’s free to help herself in the early morning. My wifi password on a card by her bed before she even has to ask.

An advice column on Camp Liza? We femmes d’un certain age know all this already. I decided to write this post because I’ve had all kinds of houseguests in the past year. Quite simply, I like house guests who bring out the generosity in me.

xo Liza

Hey lovelies!  What’s been your experience with houseguests – both being and hosting? Any tidbits to share? I’m listening, we’re all listening. So spill! The comments box is waiting below. If you enjoy being part of our lively community of stylishly intelligent women, enter your email in the box above so you don’t miss a thing.



5 thoughts on “Are you a good houseguest?

  1. WELL!!! There are certainly House Guests to whom your comments would come as a very new approach. We had guests who smirked complacently and said “of course all this is a lot of work for you” while ordering their very complicated cooked breakfast order and demanding that we rush back up the hill to the house again to fetch them a napkin they fancied, settling back more comfortably in their chairs. They felt the extra work from us was their right. I, on the other hand, agree with a writer who said the only guests entitled to be waited upon are the ill or recently bereaved…..needless to say we never invited them back and have been warding off their hints!

  2. Ah ha! I was wondering if I should even post my houseguest article…and your comment has made it clear that I should! I can’t imagine saying, “I’d like my eggs over easy please.” Ouch! xo

  3. I have hosted many more times than I’ve been a houseguest and, yes, there is a whole range of “awful to incredible” guests. Happily, most have been a joy to have in our home. I loved this article, reminding us all of our manners. Actually, I read it while being a guest at my brother-in-law’s house (for 9 days!) and am pleased to note we have apparently forgotten nothing.

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