House guest etiquette tips to consider if you want to be invited back.

Every house guest brings you happiness. Some when they arrive, and some when they are leaving.” Confucius

As a house guest, you want to have a good time. But you can’t let your “good time” negatively impact your host’s space and routine. Are you being too loud? Too messy? Too helpful or not enough? This sounds stressful. Being a house guest can be delicate balance between having a good time and not becoming a burden on your hosts.

I can’t emphasize enough the importance of having a conversation prior to the visit. Especially when there are differences of lifestyle, it’s your first time visiting, or there are multiple people/families involved. #houseguestetiquette

Does the relationship matter?  Yes it does! With close friends and certain family members, you can kick back and have a more casual exchange. With acquaintances, some family members or in-laws you may want to ask, offer, and refrain.

Three general categories for house guests to be mindful of:

1.  “Make yourself at home”: This phrase is merely an invitation to relax formalities. It does not necessarily mean, let it all hang out as you do in the privacy of your home.

  • Don’t expect the host to provide 24-hour concierge service.
  • Don’t expect the host to watch your child.
  • Don’t assume you can freely post photos of the host, their home or their children. Ask.
  • Don’t overindulge. Like getting drunk/high or overeating necessitating you to embrace the toilet all night.
  • Don’t assume you can smoke, even if it’s outside.
  • Do use discretion if romance strikes your fancy.
  • Do be aware of your phone use and more importantly, topics of conversation. If important, lengthy, or potentially naughty talk, excuse yourself and find a private spot.
  • Do keep your room neat and the bathroom use under control, especially if you are sharing the spaces.
  • Don’t be a grump. Yes, I am aware that some of us aren’t “morning people,” or at least not until after some quiet time or coffee or both. Get up before everyone else. Take a morning stroll.
  • Don’t be a snoop. And even if you inadvertently stumble upon something, don’t mention it. “Oh, I see you’re using “XYZ” medications–what’s it for”?

2.  Special requests: So you like your coffee freshly brewed at 6:57 AM. Or, you only eat locally sourced organic fruit. Is this you? Well then, plan ahead! Do not expect your host to provide every little thing that you need or prefer. If you have medical or dietary restrictions, certainly let them know. If they are just personal preferences, ask your host if it would be okay to order and have the items delivered to their home. Buy enough to share.

  • Don’t assume you can bring an extra guest or invite someone to their home.
  • Don’t plop your belongings just anywhere. Ask them where they’d like you to place them.
  • Don’t take up the entire couch or kitchen island with all of your stuff.
  • Do ask in advance if your pet is welcome. Don’t assume it’s okay because you brought your pet last year.
  • Don’t show up empty-handed. Bring items their family will enjoy. If you’re flying, order and have them delivered.
  • Don’t take down décor or make rude remarks about things you find offensive. You may have a calm and polite conversation, but still be prepared to live with it.

3.  Host’s lifestyle: Your host may not have been able to take much time off to spend with you. Life obligations like work, dental appointments, or soccer practice still go on. These circumstances will require you to adjust and accommodate them, especially if they work from home.

  • Don’t lecture your host on their lifestyle, political beliefs, eating habits or parenting style. This is the quickest way to find yourself checking into the nearest hotel.
  • Don’t be surprised if you no longer have everything in common. People change for a variety of reasons. This can include the use of curse words, recreational drugs, religious beliefs, medical conditions, becoming parents…
  • Don’t show up unannounced or earlier than agreed upon. Text or call ahead.
  • Don’t expect your host to adapt to your eating or sleeping schedule.
  • Don’t extend your stay without consulting your host. Research alternate accommodations in case they can’t host you longer, or don’t offer. Please do not take their “no” personally. They may have reasons that they don’t wish to share with you.
  • Do offer to help. Do offer to cook or buy a meal or two. Do say, “thank you.”
  • Do give your host some space. Take walks, plan an outing or a meal without them. Everyone needs a little time to breathe and regroup.


Their house, their rules. Naturally, hosts as well as house guests know that compromise and tolerance is essential for a happy stay. The house guest has more of an obligation to learn and adhere to the host’s preferences. A simple way to learn what they are is to ask.

This is not a time for you to relinquish your parenting, let your dog run wild or get frisky in the hot tub. If this sounds too restrictive, consider a private vacation rental.

TV Appearance: Good Day Sacramento TV: House Guest Etiquette

Etiquette Expert/Trainer, Author, Media Source 

Nationally recognized etiquette expert with over twenty years of providing trainings, and serving as a source for media.

Trainings are available for: corporations, sales teams, on-boarding, to support code-of-conduct policies to set a standard for employees, universities/college groups, school staff, customer service staff, dining etiquette programs for youth through adult, and actors preparing for audition/roles.

YouTubeRosalinda Oropeza Randall


Linkedin: Rosalinda Randall

FacebookRosalinda Randall


business etiquette, communication

AVAILABLE at Amazon or Barnes and Noble: “Don’t Burp in the Boardroom”, “Keep Your Distance!”