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The holidays have this magical way of bringing families and friends together for extended visits. There’s nothing quite like reveling in festive events with those you don’t get to see often.

Yet, amidst the joy, it must be acknowledged that the journey accompanying holiday gatherings can be a bit overwhelming—for both the host and the guest.

But if you find yourself on the guest side of things, now’s the perfect time to refresh your house guest etiquette. Whether you’re crashing a friend’s Friendsgiving or spending Christmas with your in-laws, mastering the art of being an unforgettable house guest is the golden ticket.

Following these house guest tips won’t just make your visit enjoyable—it’ll likely secure you that coveted return invitation. Here are 14 house guest etiquette rules to keep in mind, regardless of where you stay or how long you’re there.

Bring a Gift

Wicker gift basket with bottle of wine on wooden table. housewarming gift basket
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Sprinkle in some surprise gratitude: Gift your host with a thoughtful token. It doesn’t have to be grand—something small will do the trick. Consider a local treat from your hometown bakery, a captivating coffee table book, a bouquet of flowers, or a bottle of wine.

Don’t Show Up Unannounced

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Showing up unannounced is never a good move—and it’s even worse if you bring along a pet, child, or friend without checking with your host ahead of time.

Respect Their Personal Space

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Respect boundaries: Avoid prying into personal spaces or digging through private areas and belongings. Doing so can chip away at your host’s comfort and trust within their own home.

Follow the House Rules

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Respect the house rules: When you step in, take a moment to discuss the lay of the land to steer clear of any mix-ups. Whether it’s about smoking indoors, unexpected plus-ones, treating their home like a personal playground, or the indoor shoe policy, a friendly inquiry goes a long way.

Plan Your Own Transportation

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Make plans to find your own way to the host’s home. Don’t expect to be picked up from the airport or train station. If they offer, only then it’s okay to accept.

Be Present

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Put the phone down and be present. Constant scrolling can give your hosts the impression that they’re not holding your interest or that you’d rather be somewhere else. Keep screen time in check, reserving email and social media for your private space.

Keep Noise Levels Down

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Keep it quiet: Mind the noise levels and dial down the volume.

Offer to Help or Contribute

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Extend a helping hand: Your host might be juggling a lot, so offering assistance can go a long way. Guests who lend a hand are often the ones welcomed back. Whether it’s prepping or cooking meals, setting the table, doing the dishes, or keeping an eye on the kids while their parents catch a break, your gesture won’t go unnoticed, even if they decline the offer.

Clean Up After Yourself

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Before departing, check the bedroom and bathroom for any forgotten items, strip the sheets, do a quick wipe-down of surfaces, and put everything back where it belongs. Leave their place in good shape and clean up after yourself.

Be Self Sufficient

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Embrace self-entertainment: Roll with the flow, especially if your host is tied up or has other commitments. Keep them in the loop about your plans and estimated return time.

Bring Your Own Stuff

Organic handmade soap, waffle linen towels hanging on wood ladder, beige soap dispenser, exfoliating body strap and dried poppy flowers in textured vase. Zero waste bathroom accessories
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Respect personal space: Keep your hands off your host’s belongings. If you’ve forgotten something, ask for recommendations on where to get a new one. They might offer theirs, but it’s good to show you’re not just looking for a freebie.

Don’t Bring Your Pets (Without Pre-Approval)

Cute young Maltese and a Yorkie sitting in bed at home
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Unexpected visits with pets can throw a curveball. Always seek permission first. Furry friends, while delightful, could leave a trail of hair and unexpected messes, not to mention potential allergies for the host. A quick ask goes a long way.

Don’t Overstay Your Welcome

A young woman with cup of coffee looking out of a window, waving goodbye to her husband in the morning.
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Before you pack your bags, it’s crucial to discuss the length of your stay with your hosts well in advance. Avoid vagueness and steer clear of assuming you can extend your visit once you’re there. While there’s a chance they might extend an invitation, making assumptions and taking advantage of your host is the last thing you want to do.

Say Thank You

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Send a sincere thank-you note to your hosts after you leave. Let them know you enjoyed staying with them and appreciate their company during the holiday season.

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Deborah Agor
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Deborah Agor is a seasoned freelance writer known for her captivating storytelling and informative articles. With a diverse background in journalism, Deborah's versatile writing style covers a wide range of topics, from technology to health and wellness. Her dedication to delivering engaging content has seen her work with numerous top brands. When she's not writing, Deborah enjoys exploring nature and discovering hidden gems in her community.

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Tamara White is the creator and founder of The Thrifty Apartment, a home decor and DIY blog that focuses on affordable and budget-friendly home decorating ideas and projects. Tamara documents her home improvement journey, love of thrifting, tips for space optimization, and creating beautiful spaces.

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