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HOUSEGUEST ETIQUETTE 101

Benjamin Franklin once said, "Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days." Interior designer, Randy Florke, offers basic pointers to ensure your holiday host won't be saying this about you.


 "You were the best houseguest ever! You are welcome any time." These are the words you want to hear at the end of your visit. Unfortunately, many houseguests are not invited back.

In case you're a bit rusty on houseguest etiquette, following are a few tips to increase your odds of a return invitation:

1.  Bring a gift!  Try to purchase something thoughtful and personal to your host.  If your host is a collector, consider finding an item he or she can add to the collection or bring along a book on a topic or on a subject they care about.  If you're visiting a family, you may want to bring an old-fashioned board game.  These are always a hit and they'll provide the entire gang something fun to do if the conversation runs out.  If you're not able to buy a gift before your visit, you can always purchase something special during your stay or send flowers or another thoughtful gift when you return home.

2.  Respect your host's schedule.  Ask your host about his plans and routine so that you can modify yours in an effort to cause as little disruption as possible.  For example, try to sleep during the hours your host sleeps and plan on eating when your host does.  

3.  Remember all the things your mother always told you!  Help out:  make your bed, pick up after yourself, clear the table, wash your dishes -- and everyone else's.  Offer to walk your host's dog or do some grocery shopping.  Even if your host doesn't take you up on your offer, he'll appreciate the gesture.

4.  If you spill or break something, come clean right away.  You don't want your host  to discover the red wine stain on the rare rug he inherited from his great grandfather after you've gone home!

5.  Understand your host.  At the very beginning of a visit,  I tell my guests "to make themselves at home and help themselves."  If your host says the same, be casual, comfortable and wait on yourself.  BUT, if your host is more formal, ask before you begin making your favorite sandwich and take control over the tv remote control.

6.  Leave your host's home as clean as possible.  Ask your host what to do with the sheets and towels and do a quick wipe-down of the bathroom counters.

7.  Your visit isn't over until your host receives a handwritten (yes, handwritten!) note from you thanking her for her hospitality.  

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