Modern Etiquette: The prize-winning house guest

Mon Jul 25, 2011 4:55am EDT
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By Anna Post

BURLINGTON, Vermont (Reuters Life!) - Summer is in full swing, and it's time for vacations and trips to visit friends and family. Hotels may leave chocolates on the pillow at night and fresh towels in the morning, but nothing beats the fun and relaxation (and economy!) of staying with those you know.

No matter how closely you're related or how well you know your friends, being a guest in someone's home calls for a little extra sensitivity and awareness. Respect the agreed-upon arrival and departure times. While your hosts are sure to want you to feel at home, remember that it's their home: Don't use or borrow without permission, keep your room and bath tidy, and don't snoop.

Follow the rhythms of the house for meals and bedtimes. Be an enthusiastic participant and offer to help out. And be a little self-sufficient-don't expect your host to entertain you every minute.

Here are some important points to consider:

Bring your own toiletries. Don't count on your host having stocked the guest bathroom cabinet with everything you need.

Don't make other plans without letting your host know. For example, don't accept an invitation from someone else during your visit without first checking with your host.

Lend a helping hand. Any time you see a chance to help the host, do offer-but be specific. "I'll peel the carrots"; "It's my turn to clear the table"; or "Let me take those groceries in."

At the same time, don't overdo it. Prowling about the kitchen just waiting for an opportunity to pitch in can be distracting to the cook.   Continued...