For many of us, the holiday season involves festive gatherings, memories created with loved ones and traveling to see friends and family before the New Year arrives.
If you have plans to be a houseguest during the most wonderful time of year, I’m sharing a few etiquette reminders below.
1. Don’t arrive empty-handed.
While you will certainly plan to contribute to the groceries and activities while you are visiting, a thoughtful hostess gift starts the holiday visit off on the right foot. It doesn’t have to be elaborate – just something that lets your host know you appreciate their hospitality. A set of linen cocktail napkins, a gift basket sent in advance, or a box of special chocolates from your favorite bakery is a nice touch.
2. Let your host know if anyone in your family has food allergies.
Your family’s health is your responsibility. If the host doesn’t ask, let them know your daughter has a nut allergy and talk about whether or not they will have any difficulty accommodating the allergy. If the allergen is dander, their two dogs may cause a problem for your child, and you may have to consider other arrangements.
3. Don’t expect your host to board their pets during your stay.
Unless there is a medical reason, their pets are part of the family and will often have the run of the house. It’s not your place to ask them to restrict their furry companion to a spare room or to put them outside while you are visiting because your son is “afraid of cats.” A host will most likely change their pet habits a bit, but it’s not an option to insist they send them away because you don’t like dogs!
4. Allow your host family some space to “breathe.”
Your host is not responsible for your entertainment the entire time you are visiting. Make plans, get out on your own, and avoid monopolizing your host’s schedule.
5. Rent a car and handle your transportation.
Additionally, if your child needs a car seat, be sure to take care of it yourself (you will most likely be traveling with one on the plane). Your host shouldn’t have to make calls or locate a safety equipment for your toddler. If you don’t plan to bring a car seat, have one sent ahead of time to your destination.
6. Expect your kids to keep their area clean.
Whether they are staying in a room with one of your host’s children, with you, or their own space, give them some responsibility, depending on their age. Remind your child to place their dishes in the sink, make their bed, put the toilet seat down, and put away the toys or games, etc.
7. Pitch in.
Offer to set the table, assist with dinner, or go grocery shopping – preferably all three. If you are staying at someone’s home for a few days, help with daily chores. Have your teen take the trash to the curb, sweep the walkway, or tidy up the living room.
Turn off the lights, reuse the towels and keep your shower brief. Don’t assume your host will want to run a half-full dishwasher. Recycle and follow the host’s request when it comes to stripping the bed when you leave.
9. Hire a babysitter.
Even if you are related, don’t assume the host will be your in-house babysitter. Make arrangements and ask the host if they have any recommendations, such as hiring a neighborhood teen, cousin, or family member.
10. Don’t extend your visit.
You may think you are welcome to stay for a few more days, but your host is probably anxious to get the house back in order. They will likely be expecting more guests; a timely departure is the right thing to do.