Parents, this is time of year that your children long for – summer vacation!! While juggling camps and playdates for them, you are likely planning road trips to visit family & friends, also. This can be a wonderful time to reconnect friendships or it could actually disconnect them if we get our guest etiquette wrong. HGTV Design Happens featured a Guest Etiquette quiz which I took, naturally. The questions covered some common situations that often crop up. So I’ve taken the liberty to go through the questions and provide my expertise on each response so you and your family will be the much-loved guests this season.
Question #1 You’re an overnight guest at a friend’s. At the end of your stay, you:
Make the bed 53.26%
Strip the bed 44.69%
Leave the bed unmade 2.05%
Stripping the bed is the correct answer. Your friend will want to freshen up the sheets by washing them…make it easier so the host can throw them into the hamper.
Question #2 You bring a dish to a potluck dinner party. Do you:
Ask to take the leftovers from your dish home 10.57%
Leave the leftovers for your host 89.43%
Survey says…leave the leftovers for the host is the correct answer. Politely ask if the host can transfer the food to another container so you can bring your platter home.
Question #3 Your host uses the same cutting board for raw meat and veggies without cleaning it in between. Do you say something?
The results were almost evenly split. Usually, the correct etiquette is not to say anything but in the case of cross-contamination, good public health care trumps being totally polite so something needs to be said.
Question #4 Your host is an early-riser and serves breakfast at sunrise. Do you:
Get up early 84.67%
Sleep late and miss breakfast 15.9%
I agree that getting up early is the correct response. You may love to sleep in at home but not at the home of your host. You need to follow their schedule and that includes bedtime, too.
Question #5 You’re sending a thank-you to your host after a visit. Is it:
A text 21.32%
An email 11.4%
A handwritten note 67.28%
I was a little disappointed by the number of responses. Only 67.28% felt that a handwritten note was best. A snailmail delivered handwritten note is always the best way of saying thank you especially if the host has gone of their way to make your visit extra-special or you have stayed overnight.
Question #6 Your houseguest doesn’t make their bed and you like a tidy house. Do you:
Ask them to make their bed 0.42%
Make it for them 35.56%
Leave it unmade 64.44%
Leaving it unmade is the best response. Think of how the guest feels that the bed is made when they get back. Their first thought won’t be, “Wow, what a nice friend I have”. It will be more like “I’m really embarrassed she did that”. The first rule of good etiquette as the host is to make others feel welcomed and put at ease. If the messy room bothers you, just close the door.
Question #7 You’ve been hosting houseguests for a week, and you all go out to dinner on the last night of their stay. Do you:
Pick up the tab 42.46%
Split the bill 37.5%
Expect the guests to pay 20.04%
This was a tricky question because the guests should pay for the meal out of gratitude to the host who has been feeding them all week. However, if the guests are fairly clueless in this regard, as the host, you can’t be seen as demanding either. Before all of you go out for the meal, the particulars of who pays the bill should be sorted out ahead of time and not when the server places it on the table. The host can offer to split the final amount in the hopes that the guests will chime in with “No, we’ll get the bill as you’ve been looking after us all week”!!
Question #8 Your houseguest unexpectedly arrives with their pet. Do you ask them to take the pet to a kennel?
While this is the height of bad manners on the part of a guest, the host has to let the pet stay as well. However, if the host or any member of their family is allergic, then the pet has to go to a kennel. Always check with the host before bringing an animal along.
Question #9 Your dinner guest announces she’s now a vegetarian – and you’re serving chicken. Do you quickly cook a separate meatless meal for her?
If your dinner guest didn’t bother to inform you of her dietary change, then you, as the host, are not obligated to prepare a separate meal. She can make due with the meatless items that you’re likely serving anyway.
Question #10 Your houseguests have been taking long showers and using up all the hot water. Do you tell them to bathe faster?
There’s nothing inherently wrong from an etiquette standpoint to politely ask your guests if they could shorten the shower time. If you have guests like this, it really shows that they don’t have much consideration for others, though.
Question #11 After a weeklong stay, your houseguests call from the airport to say their flight has been cancelled. Do you:
Offer to have them come back for another night 97.35%
Suggest they stay in a hotel 2.65%
Unless you aren’t able to accommodate this request, then definitely offer your guests to stay for another night.
Question #12 Your houseguests are huge sports fans. You’re not. When it comes to TV watching, do you:
Control the remote 5.7%
Let your guests pick what to watch 94.3%
There aren’t enough alternatives to this question, in my opinion. There should be a third possibility – host & guest(s) can figure out a TV schedule that is agreeable to both parties. Controlling the remote is definitely not wise. While letting the guests choose the TV programs if the visit is short is fine but what if they are staying for a period of time? They can’t “hijack” your electronic entertainment…the same goes for computer use.
Question #13 A guest brings a bottle of wine to your dinner party. Do you:
Serve the wine with the meal 80.61%
Save it for later 19.39%
The host isn’t required to serve wine that a guest has brought. In most cases, the wine should be considered a personal gift to the host.
Question #14 Your houseguest announces they’d like to do some day trips while visiting but they didn’t rent a car. Do you chauffeur them around?
I would agree with the NO response. Before arriving to our host’s home, we need to check with their personal availability. Perhaps they are working during the day while we’re visiting so announcing upon arrival that they should drop all of their commitments to suit us isn’t being respectful. We shouldn’t be surprised if the friendship suddenly cools off. Once again, plan ahead…ask the host if they are able to accommodate the extra work of driving around.
Many of these frequent scenarios could be avoided if both guests and host laid down some ground rules for the visit. Such as, do we want to do everything together? Or do we want to have some time away to do our own “thing”? The guests should be very respectful of the host’s personal schedule in terms of rising in the morning and bedtime. Think of treating the host’s home better than your own. Making others feel welcomed and put at ease in addition to treating other’s home/property with utmost respect will make these summer visits full of lasting joyful memories.
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