House Guest Etiquette and the "Big Question"

What started me thinking about this is the Big Question: What to do with the bed before I leave my host's home?

Sometimes I strip the sheets & sort of remake it with the bedspread, and other times, I remake it (usually when the host says "Please don't do anything!") and there have even been times (Oh mother-in-law how I love you!!!- forgive me!!) that we've left the bed sort of messily thrown together but definitely not made (gasp!!) imagew below of my mother-in-law's guest room:


So, just browsing around online to see what I could find about house guest etiquette, I found the following tips to be the most common:

(Before I list them all here, let me just say that in our house there are some people who visit who we don't even consider guests- more like "non-guests"-- they've earned "mi casa es su casa" and they're the ones who don't need to knock- you know parents, siblings, best-friend neighbors, people who you're so close with that it would seem crazy to do some of these formalities with --- hee hee oh they get the royal treatment... we even let them help load the dishwasher ;) ;)) Ok, here we go:
1) Bring a hostess gift--- Especially if you haven't seen your friend for a while and/ or it's a special occasion or you're a first-time visitor... (but I must say that as a host, this is something I would never expect either, only that it's a nice surprise when it does happen.)

2) Help Out-- for example, ask to help with food prep, dishes, etc.

3) If you have kids, keep them under control-- I'd say this really goes for leaving the house at all (not just being a guest) but I thought I'd include it here anyway. Also know that people who aren't around kids a lot or don't have kids are sometimes more anxious about kids in the house than another parent with their own crazy kids. (Many exceptions to this of course, but I have realized how much more relaxed I am myself now when other kids are tearing through my house, compared to when I didn't have a kid... I guess it's like pain tolerance?? ;) ... Make sure to wake up with your children-- unless you're with grandparents, in which they usually relish having the kids when you're sleeping. (we hope!!) (image below from an abc show- not mine, I swear!!)

4) Keep your space tidy-- One of the articles I read mentioned that if you're in a space that's used by other family members, then you should keep your door ajar so they have access to it (for example, home office)... Obviously you don't want people walking into a catastrophic mess. It's nice to make the bed everyday & keep a handle on your clothes. (image below from In Style Home)

5) Keep the bathroom super-neat-- (I've been using the word "super" a lot lately because my 2-year old says food is "super hot" and it's now in my head.) Hang your towels neatly, keep your toiletries under control, close the lid on the commode after each use and if there's a squeegee, use it.

6) Be grateful-- this is pretty standard... It's nice to leave a little thank you note when you leave or send one when you get home.
7) And from here, I found "Don't eat everything in sight." -- ah oops. hahahahah I KNOW I am guilty of this one!!! oh boy... (My in-laws get us this AMAZING prosciutto & salami & olives when we go there or when they visit, and I literally even eat it at breakfast time... the amount of consumption is incredible. And when my best friends & I visit each other, our purpose seems to be eating... But I guess this falls under the "non-guest" clause... I'm a non-guest when I'm there, right??)


8) In general, be easy & flexible.

9) AND.... On the Bed-making question I found this from here: "MOST IMPORTANTLY: Leave the space ready for the next guest. The day you leave, strip the bed, place all soiled linens and towels neatly in pillow cases, and set the cases near the laundry facilities. Re-cover the bed with the bedspread so it will look fresh until the next guest arrives. Finally, check the space to be sure you haven’t left any personal items behind."


So, that's the answer to my big question... BUT I have to say, that as a HOST, I really like my guests to feel pampered & not do work. (Even non-guests!) I feel a twinge of guilt when they're working on the bed or trying to launder their linens/ towels. I just want them to relax & not worry about what they're leaving behind. If I ever see guests doing this or even making the bed, I tell them not to... so guests who get away with it in my house, have to do it before I see them trying ;)

That being said, I still do it when I'm at others' homes... (Again, usually being told by the host not to worry about it.) So will this always be one of those things that hosts and guests push each other on?? What do you think? What to you do as a guest? As a host? Is there any way we can set out a world-wide standard and just all agree on it??? Make a blog-world pact on how to do it & then spread it around ?!!!!) ;)

What do you think?? xoxo,

lauren

27 comments:

Miss Madras said...

These are great tips. Thanks for gathering them all to share.

sarah @ realestatestyle said...

I think strip the bed, and put shams and bed spread back on. Just fold the spread half way down so they know you stripped it. I hate to remake the bed, because you know they are going to wash the sheets! {or you hope :)}

inthetweeds said...

Great post! I've wondered what the "real" etiquette is too! Whenever we stay somewhere - even if with my in-laws or close friends, I try to bring something I love from where we live. There's a Great Harvest Bread Co nearby with the best Apple Scrapple bread that I like to bring, or sometimes sachets from a boutique down the street. And as for linens and towels? - I always strip the bed and put the linens and towels either by the bedroom door or in the laundry room (if I know where it is), then make up the bed. I know how much I love it when my houseguests do it, so I love to do it for my hosts!

Maria Killam said...

Great post Lauren (thanks for the hugs--I know I'm going on with the yay me posts, but the magazine just came out this weekend and I'm hoping people will go over to my blog, etc :)

I agree with all your guidelines and the big one that I think should be standard (now that you're asking) is making the bed. That is the biggest chore (for me) so if a guest stripped their bed and then made it with fresh bedding, I would love that!

Natalie said...

I say make the bed when you leave (even though the host/ess will later strip it). For me this falls under the category of leave it how you found it. And a little extra effort goes a long way. Thanks for the great tips!

Tracy @ comfortandluxury said...

As a good host, it's entirely correct to say "please, don't worry about it" over and over again. And as a guest, it is your obligation to worry about it anyway and perform all the acts of a good guest as you've outlined here. That someone gives you permission to ignore your good manners doesn't make it acceptable to do so. I've had ninja guests (the kind I try to be) and I've had slobs who littered the whole house AND my car when they borrowed it! Of course I told them all "make yourself at home!", but good guests know not to take that so literally!

Erin said...

These are great tips!! And you're so funny! I kept LOLing my way through the list!

My Notting Hill said...

I always strip the sheets, bundle them up and put the bedspread back on. Like you, I'd never ask them to though. Isbn't great when they do though?

When I had small kids I also used to bring small grocery store bags, bundle up the diaper asap, and put them in the Outside trash. My in-laws started this rule and I actually agreed with them. (rare)

LindsB said...

Too funny you posted this, the BF and I stayed at our friends house in the cape this weekend and I didn’t know if I should strip the bed or just make it. They told us to do nothing, so I made it as neatly as I could and hoped I was doing the right thing.

Looks like I was on the right track :)

DreamCatcher said...

As someone who has guests all the time(!) I'd really appreciate a new bed makeover with clean sheets and everything...I'd never ask for it though!
When I am the guest, I always bring little presents with me and I always try to follow the house rules and timetables esp. when kids are involved.Being a new mom myself, I can really understand the importance of keeping with the children's routine. And finally I try to help with meal preparation/dishes etc. If the stay is long I am helping with the cleaning as well.

Brenda said...

I love the list and I just wished I could pass it on to some guests who stay for long periods of time at my home. I'm talking months and will not help with meal prep, getting the mail or keeping their room tidy. Not asking for much but when you have a 2 yr old and 9 month old it helps.

Teacats said...

Great posting! Yes -- I usually strip the bed and then "re-make" it with the comforter or blanket or duvet and pillows so it will look tidy. Then tidy the bathroom and add your towels to the laundry pile. Drop the pile by the washer/dryer. These steps take a few minutes and really helps out the host! Of course -- do bring along a hosting gift (or take everyone out for a meal or movie!) And do write a quick thank you card -- and -- if you can -- add a photo or two of the trip!


Jan at Rosemary Cottage

viera said...

Thanks for sharing, great tips
X
V

FROM THE RIGHT BANK said...

How timely! We had guests this weekend who just left this morning and we went through the whole, "Can I strip the bed?" "No, please just leave it." back and forth! I'm like you, I don't like my guests to do any work. But that said, I agree with your last tip. That's what I do when I'm a guest. I also like all the other tips. Don't eat everything in sight - that one cracks me up!

DesignTies said...

When I'm a guest, I usually strip the bed, put the bedspread back in place, and leave the sheets & pillowcases folded at the bottom of the bed.

When my dad stays at our place, he tries to leave the bed the same way it was before he slept in it. But he isn't very good!!

We had a guest once who used so much hair care products, there was a film left behind on everything in the bathroom after she left. And the smell lingered for a week. Ick.

Kelly

Southern Aspirations said...

Great post! I tend to try to either strip the bed and leave sheets folded at the end or totally remake the bed in case the host/hostess isn't getting to laundry immediately. Would love for my guests to take the sheets off the bed (but of course would never ask!) but would feel guilty if they put a new set of sheets on~! Way too much work for a guest!

Passementerie said...

Great tips!

If I know the family VERY well, I'll strip the bed, but if not, I just straighten it and leave the duvet folded back.

pve design said...

I think I need to come stay with you!

Windlost said...

I always re-make the bed and don't strip it at someone's house. That way it looks neat until they are ready to launder it.

I never get hostess gifts - most people I know don't have a clue about guest etiquette. Although I have had guests give a parting gift. I wish people would bring more wine. haha.

Have a super-good day, haha. I am picking up your "haha" by the way. ; 0

xo Terri

Blueprint Bliss said...

Great post. Something that we've all thought about!

Love Where You Live said...

I'm with you, Lauren. Typically, I prefer my guests relaxing. And I like the same treatment when I'm the guest (no working)! As for sheets, I just tell everyone to leave on the bed. That way I can get to them at my own pace. Otherwise, I feel the need to do it asap. See ya, -susan

Courtney said...

Ha! The bed question is always a debate, but as a guest I most often strip it and, along with any towels I've (we've) used, will take it to the laundry room. Sometimes, I will even start the load of laundry (however, when I don't start the load, I've never put everything inside the pillow cases after stripping it-- will have to make a mental note of that.) As a host, though, I always tell people to not worry about it!

Tracey said...

Ha, I love the tip...if you have kids keep them under control! Sometimes easier said than done:)

T

Morning T said...

Great post Lauren! We just left my in laws in Canada on Sunday and we always take hostess gifts (even when friends have us over for dinner, my mom taught me to never arrive empty handed) and it's always a debate about making versus stripping the bed. I did a post a few weeks ago on preparing your home for guests. So interesting how different our beliefs are on this stuff.

Anonymous said...

Once my in-laws' house was for sale and I had to remind my husband do not strip the sheets, because the house might be shown. I the host has a maid, make the bed. If not, strip the sheets. Maybe. Also, when I ask guest to quit cleaning up after a meal, I mean it. sometimes I want us all to sit down. I can do it later. One of my frequent guests is so neat that when he makes the bed the cleaning lady can tell he's been there!

anizmail said...

this is a very interesting issue. in the past i would always strip the sheets and put the comforter and pillows back on, etc. then my dear friend whom i visit a few times a year let me know that it actually makes more work for her when i do that be/c she doesn't always intend to wash the sheets right away. she likes to leave the bed made up and only washes the sheets right before new company is to arrive so as to have freshly laundered sheets for each set of guests. but if i strip the bed, that forces her to wash the sheets right away and then again before new company. so now i just always leave the bed completely made before i leave someone's house.

anizmail said...

this is a very interesting issue. in the past i would always strip the sheets and put the comforter and pillows back on, etc. then my dear friend whom i visit a few times a year let me know that it actually makes more work for her when i do that be/c she doesn't always intend to wash the sheets right away. she likes to leave the bed made up and only washes the sheets right before new company is to arrive so as to have freshly laundered sheets for each set of guests. but if i strip the bed, that forces her to wash the sheets right away and then again before new company. so now i just always leave the bed completely made before i leave someone's house.