The Dos And Dont's Of Being A Houseguest

Something I never considered when I moved to the City of Lights, was that my apartment would become a revolving door for all the friends, family, and acquaintances coming into town and wanting a place to stay. I’m a generally a nice person, but I also am anal-retentive, so having other people in my personal space is at times very difficult and grating. When I get that fishing email or Facebook message alerting me of impending trips to my neck of the woods, I often find myself torn between my desire to entertain and my need to maintain order within my home. I have yet to say no to anyone, because I have trouble saying no, but also when living abroad there is an unspoken code of hosting karma: what goes around, comes around, you never know when you might need a place to crash, so accept everyone–even if it goes against your better judgment. While I’ve had numerous amazing guests, I’ve also had some nightmares. I’m shocked by the lack of manners many of my guests have shown and while I know it is never their intention, many have managed to get on my nerves and driven me completely crazy. I know this isn’t entirely their fault, I’m not the easiest person to live with, but when you’re in my house…too bad. I wanted to write a short list of do’s and don’ts not just for my visitors but for all you travelers imposing upon your friends this summer. Follow these simple rules, they could save your friendship and will most certainly guarantee a return invite.

Do Hostess Gifts

A host/hostess gift is essential. You will instantly begin your stay on a good note when you make a peace offering to your host. It really could be anything. Liquor is always nice but so are delicacies from your homeland or other travels, it could even be as simple as a treat from the local bakery, just something to express your appreciation to your host.

Don’t Use My Computer

One of my biggest annoyances is when guests come to my house and just start using my computer without asking. In this day and age, a computer is about as personal as a diary–you never know what secrets people could have stored on it. Just ask first, I will say yes, I just might have to close a few windows.

Do Pay for Food

Just because I provide you shelter doesn’t mean I provide you food. My apartment is not a B&B. Even though I cook wonderfully, don’t expect me to do it for you. This means you should always bring groceries and be prepared to get the bill when eating out. I know people get huffy about food, but consider the fact that you are staying at my apartment free of charge, then consider how much you would be paying for a hotel room each night….surprise!!! It actually costs ME money to have you at my house. Did you ever think about the water, electricity and rent I pay to have you here? The least you can do is offer to buy me dinner. Chances are I won’t let you pay, but the offer would be appreciated.

Don’t Have Sex

There is nothing more awkward then hearing your guest/s having sex. Just don’t do it or at least do it when I’m not around. However, it’s still awkward for me when I find a condom in the bathroom trash or a cum stain on my guest sheets, so I would prefer that you refrain for such activity in general when staying at my place.

Do Assume Nothing

Assume nothing when you are in my apartment. I know I may say ‘make yourself at home’ but I don’t really mean it. Always ask me where things are, how things work, why they work and how you should work them. You never know when in someone’s apartment (especially European ones over a century old) there are always quirks from using certain light switches to bizarre shower heads. If you press the wrong button or turn the wrong knob it could have potentially devastating consequences. So play it safe and ask me first.

Don’t Smoke My Cigarettes

I know you don’t normally smoke but now that you’re in Europe in my apartment watching me smoke you suddenly are overwhelmed with an intense desire to smoke a cigarette too. Just because I smoke and happen to have cigarettes doesn’t mean I want to share them with you. Cigarettes are expensive and a personal indulgence, they’re not like towels or sheets, as your hostess you simply shouldn’t expect me to provide you with smokes. Buy your own pack and stop bumming mine.

Do Clean

This is probably my biggest annoyance when it comes to guests. I know I’m anal retentive and keep a freakishly clean house, however I’m not asking you to clean anything, I’m simply asking you not to make a mess. Keep your stuff neatly concentrated in one place (my apartment is small I don’t want to be tripping over your shit), and please, please, please, always make your bed–an unmade bed brings me to uncontrollable eye twitching.

Don’t Use My Nice Shampoo

I have two types of shampoos in my shower, one very expensive and tiny bottle and then a big bottle of cheap generic shampoo. Please always use the latter. I love you and want you to have glorious clean hair but, this isn’t a hair salon, be polite and don’t assume the fancy shit is for you.

Do Use One Cup

I don’t have a dishwasher so please get 1 cup and reuse it. I don’t want your cups piling up in my sink. On the same note, please always do your dishes and even offer to do mine.

Do Realize I’m not on vacation

As much as I do like showing you around my city you must keep in mind that even though you might be on vacation, I am not. Don’t be too bummed when I leave you alone to go to work or class or even an engagement that I can’t bring you to. My life can’t come to a complete halt because you’re in town.

Don’t Complain

Whatever you do, don’t ever complain. I’m doing you a favor by letting you crash at my place. Roll with the punches.

Do Keep My Whites White

This is one I never expected. Unfortunately, I have white towels and linens. I initially thought this was the wisest investment since you can always bleach your whites. However, a number of my female guests have managed to leave their lasting mark. I am horrified by the pollockesque black mascara and tan foundation smudges that have transformed my once white towels. It’s fine you wipe your face off on my towels, that’s what they are for, I am simply asking that you properly remove your makeup before doing so.

Don’t Call Me Mommy

I don’t have any children so I can safely say to all my guests: don’t expect me to be your mom. I don’t need to cook for you, care for you, or clean up after you. I’m your peer, you are not my responsibility. Just because I can provide a place for you to sleep, even entertainment while you are here, doesn’t mean I need to become your caregiver. TC mark


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  • Kat

    Since “Don’t call me out for being a likely-passive aggressive bitch who insists her guests walk on eggshells” isn’t on the list, I’m going to go ahead and do that.

  • A.

    Awful. This could have been funny or witty, but is just plain bitchy and irritating.

  • RAH

    #truth everyone needs to read this before they stay with someone 

  • r3t0dd

    Yeeeeeeesh. I can’t imagine why anyone would be friends with you, much less want to be a guest at your home.

    • Aelya

      These are perfectly reasonable requests. Keep clean, don’t fuck with her stuff, don’t treat her like a maid. People need to realize that staying in someone’s house/apt is not the same as a hotel

    • John

       I have lived and studied in Stockholm for a year and it was a coming and going of friends (at one time there were 8 people living crammed in an appartment of 9 by 4 metres) and I can tell you that everyone who has had houseguests complies to (most of) these rules. The other ones were starting to get the message after a day or 3, I’m not an anal person at all but it just isn’t liveable when they’re on a holiday and you need to attend classes and write a thesis, it really isn’t like childhood when friends come sleep over and your mom prepares an extensive breakfast…

  • Josef

    Shouldn’t this be titled ‘The Dos And Don’t Of BEING A Houseguest’???

    • kendallcorner

      exactly what I was going to say.

  • Mr Shankly

    This shit should be taught at school level, man. Additional point: if the host has a dog, don’t give it your food, pull its ears or disturb it when it’s sleeping. 

  • anonymous

    I’ll go book my hotel room then..

  • Guest

    “I know I may say ‘make yourself at home’ but I don’t really mean it.”


    • Julian Paul Tate

      Would you prefer someone to tell you “Walk on egg shells while you’re in my house. Everything you do that reminds me that you’re here will probably piss me off.”

      • kendallcorner

        Yes. Then I can go stay with another friend or in a hotel instead of burdening the hostess.

        It sounds like this person lives in Europe, so maybe she gets more freeloading guests than the average individual, and thus is more easily annoyed by them …

      • RAH!

        This is so strange.   This discussion blows my mind.  How is this so controversial? 
        When someone welcomes you into their home, you show them respect: give them a gift, follow their rules, clean up after yourself, etc. 

  • Kari Baker

    If anyone is thinks these are horrible rules, you must be a horrible houseguest because these all seem reasonable. Don’t make a mess, don’t treat it like a hotel. Simple.

  • Bee

    Before I moved into my own house and my husband’s friends decided they would come over whenever, I would have thought this was bitchy and unnecessary. However, after trying to do the nice thing and help his friend who was in the middle of a move by allowing him to stay at the house for a week while his apartment opened up, I learned that all of this really needed to be said. My husband and his friend are in the military and when the friend’s soon-to-be wife came up from their home state, they proceeded to have loud sex in my guest room all night, sufficiently pissing off my neighbors. The extra set of sheets we have were black and after loud sex all night, I’m sure you can guess what kind of stains I was dealing with when he left. He never once offered to chip in for food and the room smelled awful because he had those skeleton toe looking shoes that you can’t wear with socks. He used a million cups every day and thought it was okay to chew tobacco in my house without asking whether or not we were okay with that. He’s a nice guy but I’ll never have him in my house that long again. 

  • Kyle Angeletti

    Fuck, you’re annoying. 

    • Joe

      Guess you won’t be staying with her, then…

    • Monet Patterson

      If having the decency to not ravage your host’s home like some kind of crazy hobo is annoying, then do right thing and keep your ass at the nearest Ramada Inn.

  • T.

    I completely agree with the list. It’s a shame that most of these things should be common sense to people but many just don’t give a shit or don’t appreciate the nice gesture. Sure, you can lighten up a little, but that doesn’t give others a right to be rude, lack proper manners, or trash your house.

  • Gregory Costa

    …can I rummage through your drawers?…

  • Anonymous

    Yikes, I don’t know if the author intended to sound like Joan Crawford, but there you go.

    If any of her guests accidentally get some makeup on a towel or use more than one cup, feel free to come by my apartment. My guest sheets are dark and we can complain together.

    • Joe

      Very interesting comment from someone whose articles are typically written with an aloof, negative tone… I would have thought you to empathize with her.

    • D S

      Ugh, your comments are almost as annoying and condescending as your articles.

  • Joe

    I love this! Especially the gift thing, it is such a thoughtful touch. 

    To anyone who disagrees with her: YOU ARE PROBABLY A LOUSY HOUSEGUEST ANYWAY.

  • Haley F

    This article does come off a bit harsh… but after moving to New York and having house guests almost every weekend in the summer I completely agree. Especially the point about showing people around. I have a full time job and can’t afford to take everyone out for their BEST NEW YORK WEEKEND EVER every week!

  • Haley F

    This article does come off a bit harsh… but after moving to New York and having house guests almost every weekend in the summer I completely agree. Especially the point about showing people around. I have a full time job and can’t afford to take everyone out for their BEST NEW YORK WEEKEND EVER every week!

  • raige eubanks-barrow

    There are some gems hidden in there behind all of the obsessive hand scrubbing.

  • Anonymous

    The only ones I disagree with are the absolutely absurd one cup rule and not having sex while they are on vacation. You know what you are getting when you letting people visit. Say no to couples and ask people not to bring people back to the apartment if it bothers you sooooooo much.

  • your cousin

    Oh my god, too close to home. My boyfriend’s little sister just moved to town and has been staying with us for almost 2 months. The very least of our problems is that she got the genius idea in her head to blot her lipstick on our white towels. Wtf!!

    And you missed the most important one: Don’t Be a Houseguest for Two Freaking Months

  • Egle Makaraite

    Preach it. Isn’t it sad/weird that it’s difficult for some people to do things like not make a mess of someone else’s home??

  • Lou

    if you have such a problem with houseguests, learn to say no, then maybe you could avoid these OCD rules??

  • ✔ Lady Blue

    I agree with almost everything written in this article [minus the cup thing and the white towel thing – anything white is bound to get dirty], but since I’m aware of how uptight and OCD these rules seem, I rarely have anyone over anymore.

  • ✔ Lady Blue

    I agree with almost everything written in this article [minus the cup thing and the white towel thing – anything white is bound to get dirty], but since I’m aware of how uptight and OCD these rules seem, I rarely have anyone over anymore.

  • Anonymous

    Straight to the point: this list is accurate and clearly written in response to such behaviour. Some people are naturally good hosts, some are naturally good guests, but sometimes people just don’t get it for whatever reason. That said, there should also be a reciprocal list for hosts. The very first tip would be to be clear with your guests: talk about your personal time constraints, expectations, and whatever else. Say “I can’t do what for whatever reason, but here is a map/website/friend/suggestion.” Or “I’ve been hosting a lot lately and I am really fatigued. I am happy to have you, but you should know that whatever etc and I just wanted to tell you beforehand.”

    As someone who has done of hosting and guesting, this is EXTREMELY important. Prevention! It’s lets you enjoy yourself more down the road.

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