How to Be a Good Holiday Houseguest

Make sure you’re the best guest during the holiday season.

Trent Armstrong
4-minute read
Episode #109

For many of us the holiday season means traveling to see family and friends. This is a potentially stressful time of year-- and by "potentially" I mean "absolutely". Should you find yourself on someone else's futon or hide-a-bed now (or any time of year), I would like you to keep some things in mind that will help relieve any extra pressure your host might feel during your stay.

How to Be a Good Houseguest

As far as being a guest in someone's home, the very first thing to mention is the need for proper planning; there are two sides to this coin. Try not to just show up unannounced. There are people in the world who are thrilled when friends and family just happen to drop by, but their joy might be followed by anxiety if you and your four kids show up for the week instead of a little visit.

The other side of the coin is not showing up after saying you would. When making plans with your host to visit them for an extended time, you should do everything in your power to stick to the plan. It will disrupt their holiday flow if you tell them you are coming only to skip out. A lot of preplanning goes into hosting someone. Frustration is the likely outcome if your potential host spends time preparing for you when they could have been taking care of other pressing matters. If something unexpected comes up and you can't go, make sure to call as soon as you come to that decision. Your host will still likely be disappointed, but your early notice and sincere apology will clear the air a little more quickly than just not showing up.

Things You Shouldn't Do as a Houseguest

No matter how often you are told to make yourself at home do not actually make yourself at home.

Once you have made the trip and are welcomed in as a guest, there is a very important rule to remember: No matter how often you are told to make yourself at home, do not actually make yourself at home. It is not your house, your fridge, your TV, or your thermostat. Always ask before getting something out of the refrigerator. Always ask before changing the channel on the television. Ask. Ask. Ask. And every request should be made with humility and respect. 

If your host seems to keep the temperature in their home a little colder than you are accustomed to, please do not complain. Your host should certainly be making an effort to keep you comfortable, but you are not the one who should remind them of that. You may request more blankets or even ask for a few more degrees on the thermostat, but passively throwing out comments like "Wow. Are we expecting snow in here?" or "Are we sleeping in the penguins' room?" will not endear you to your host. That will embarrass only them.