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How to Be a Polite House Guest When Visiting for the Holidays


Traveling from afar to share the holiday spirit is one of the best holiday experiences. While visiting is enormously fun, observing fair etiquette as a guest matters. It's no secret that you have to be reasonably polite from your arrival to bidding farewell.

Allow me to share top tips on how to be a polite house guest when visiting for the holidays.

Arrive with a Lovely Gift

If you can afford the trip, you can afford to buy a little something. Cookies are all the time cherished, especially if there are children in the family. If you can bake, some fanciness will make it more delightful.

Aside from conveying warm thoughts for the season, the kids will not forget you bringing them something good for Christmas. Whether it's anything homemade or purchasing something along the way, your thoughtfulness will be appreciated.

Don't Bring Another Guest

It is self-explanatory not to bring another guest. Your hosts would love to spend time with you and may not be relaxed with your personal visitor. Though some hosts find this acceptable, still it can be a brow raiser for some. When you say you're coming alone, arrive by yourself. If you need company, it is only proper to inform the host.


Leave Your Pet at Home

You're planning to take a fur-son? Talk with your hosts first if pets are invited. The children of the house might be afraid of animals, or could be the family simply doesn't like animals. If they have a dog and you're bringing a cat, that makes it more likely the pets will fight.

If your dog is invited, you’ll want to ask the host about the facilities you could use. This will help you figure out how to prepare your dog to be a good guest, as well.

Give Your Hosts the Pleasure of Spoiling You

Having someone visiting for the holidays can be a wonderful experience for your host or hostess. Welcome the genuinity and let them feel your gratefulness.

When dining with the family, appreciate the food. Tell your hostess how you are enjoying the meal but always be honest. Don’t say you like shrimps when you really don’t eat shrimps.

When offered something that's out of your diet, try to get through it even if you only eat one portion and move to the next food. You can offer to cook something for the next meal if you feel that mealtime may be an ongoing issue.


Be Visible & Polite

Even though you are a special visitor of the house, do not simply disappear if you need to take a nap or go to bed. While it is politeness to leave it to your hosts that it is time for sleep, they would understand if you really need to rest.

You would not want your host to look all over for you only to know you've gone out strolling. Ask permission if you need to leave the house. It is good manners to not leave your hosts guessing whether you went out or you're in your room with the door shut.

Treat Your Hosts to a Nice Dinner

It is normal for any host or hostess to give you a drive around town. Usually, they insist on paying for your entertainment, which is a perfect time for you to insist on buying him or her a cup of coffee or dinner perhaps, at the very least.

Be cheerful. Have an enjoyable conversation. Mention things like admiring the town's popular destinations, or inviting them on some of your adventures. Even if they cannot make it, they would be motivated to make some plans.


Help If You Can

Many hostesses who entertain a friend for a couple of days or so would love their guest to behave like a guest. This is constant on most occasions. On your part, avoid following them around asking if you can help. She would be glad to have you sit and chat with her while she is preparing a meal.

It is understandable to quietly help clear the plates when the meal is over. But avoid putting things away without asking where they go.

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Respect and Observe House Rules

A guest always gets special treatment. However, it is nice to be courteous and abide by the house rules. With the right etiquette, you are less likely to offend.

If they take their shoes off at the door, then you are taking your shoes off. If everyone goes to breakfast earlier than your usual schedule, you are taking breakfast early. If they don’t smoke in the house, you don’t smoke in the house.


Clean After Yourself

Be conscious of tidiness by cleaning after yourself. Your host or hostess would love to see no specks of food falling while you eat. When you share the bathroom, don't leave any personal belongings. Most of all, leave the toilet seat dry for the next user.

You may be rushing for the next day's outing, but don't forget to tidy up your bed and your room. One common mistake guests tend to overlook is leaving socks and shoes on view. The right thing is to put them inside your bedroom.

When It's Time to Leave

When it’s about time to go, let your hosts know what time you wish to leave. Fold up your sheets ready for laundry. See to it that you are leaving the room tidy. In case you have used up all the toothpaste or shampoo, it would be very generous of you to replenish them.

Thank your hosts for the wonderful time you had with them. Tell the kids how fond you are with them. Include the dog. They would love to know how you have loved your stay, the dessert, the exciting talks, and the fun.

Image courtesy - Photo Jeanie

Image courtesy - Photo Jeanie

Send a Bread-and-Butter Letter

A gracious, handwritten bread-and-butter note sent immediately following your visit is a grateful gesture. You would love your hosts to know how happy you are to have stayed with them for the holidays. Likewise, your hosting friends will be happy to know how they have made your visit for the holidays memorable.

© 2012 Tonette Fornillos


Tonette Fornillos (author) from The City of Generals on December 13, 2012:

Teaches hello. We've all missed some points :=) I do, whew! Perhaps it truly pays to know what to do so we can be, like what you said, considerate enough to make our visit enjoyable for our hosts. Not bad to perfect them, though. Thank you so much for the vote. Allow me to wish you and your family the best of the holidays. MERRY CHRISTMAS! Ho Ho Ho

Dianna Mendez on December 13, 2012:

Great information to have when visiting. I only wish I would have had this earlier in life -- I may have missed some of these points. I love having guests, especially when they are considerate and make their stay enjoyable. Voted up.

Tonette Fornillos (author) from The City of Generals on December 12, 2012:

@Hello Angela. It pays to be polite because hosts will be delighted to invite the guest again in the future, you said it. Thanks for reminding me about the pet...just edited:=)... That was very helpful educating us with what is proper. Merry Christmas to you and your family. All the best, too!

@Ruby, my mother used to tell me that... "more than three days of stay then the guest is overstaying. I wish none of my friends who I've visited for more than 3 days has closed their doors for me, LOL.... kidding... I know they won't haha. Thanks for dropping by... May your Christmas and New Year be as blessed as ever.

Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on December 11, 2012:

Great info. I love having guests but about three day's is long enough. Hee..Thank's..

Angela Blair from Central Texas on December 10, 2012:

Great suggestions -- if all guests followed them they could rest assured they would be invited back in the future. One other thing that I've run into personally with one of my guests: If you're taking your pet with you to another's home -- ask permission first. Forewarned is forearmed and this should be common courtesy whether the visit is for an afternoon or a week! Best/Sis

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