How To Be A Better Guest

I absolutely love opening my apartment to friends, especially because I live a 4-hour drive from where most of my college buds stayed and because I live in New York City, a place many friends come to interview for jobs or to see a Broadway show, etc. That being said, being a guest in someone’s home is a privilege. Here are some tips that will make your host/ess sing “Be Our Guest” from Beauty and the Beast at your face in gratitude when you leave.

Clean up after yourself.

I have never been able to understand how someone could come into someone else’s home — someone who welcomed them there at their own inconvenience — and proceed to make a huge mess. When has that ever been acceptable? Even when my dad would taking me camping in the woods as a kid, we still had to leave the campsite “the way we found it.” And this isn’t some spot in the forest; This is my home.

If you cook, don’t leave the pots and pans out. If you shower, hang up your towel. If you use a tissue, don’t then just drop it on the living room floor. (This has happened in my apartment, no joke.) Leaving soda cans in the corner of the bedroom has never been a thing human beings do. Unless — are they your food for later? Are you a goat? If you need help knowing where dishes go or what to use, please ask! As a hostess, I will totally help you with this.

Everyone has differing levels of cleanliness or pest situations, but I’m pretty sure there are a few basic ground rules for living indoors that everyone should know. Even Luke Skywalker probably cleaned up the inside of his tauntaun (so, intestines basically) better than you’ve treated my house.

Don’t rely on me for everything.

Having a house guest for more than one night can be exhausting, especially if you’re also playing tour guide. I feel enormous pressure to make sure every minute of every day of your visit is enjoyable and fun-filled. The best thing a house guest can do is come in with ideas.

I know I live here — this is my city! I can absolutely show you around and take you to the best little cafes or parks or bars, but what I can not do is read your mind. Too many visitors show up with no game plan. Did you look up if there were any art exhibits at the museums that tickle your fancy? Did you read about a bar in Brooklyn with a real-sized TARDIS from Doctor Who inside? Did you see something on TV about a restaurant with amazing double fudge sundaes? GREAT. Let’s go to all of those! That little bit of research makes my whole life a million times easier.

If we don’t get to do the things you find most fun, I will feel immensely guilty as a hostess. It’s my job to make sure you have a great trip. So you have to give me somewhere to start. Saying, “I don’t know. Show me around! Whatever you want to do!” makes me feel 100 percent responsible for your good time. I don’t want you to be passive-aggressively bored.

Research is also helpful for learning your way around. If we’re in a place with a metro system, take a look at a map before you come. That way I won’t have to babysit you to every place you go, especially if I have to work or if you want to see other friends without me. I want you to have the best time — and your freedom too.

Be open to new experiences.

This past weekend, my sister, a party girl who thinks an average Tuesday is getting proposed to by an arms dealer on a yacht, came to visit. Though it is not her usual speed, I got us tickets to see Sleep No More, an amazing interactive play (based on Macbeth) that takes place inside a hotel with all the participants wearing masks.

It’s amazing immersion theater and unlike anything she’d ever done — or would ever probably be able to do where she lives. I worried all week about whether or not she’d be open to the weird, artsy aesthetic of the show, which requires commitment from its audience. To my delight, she got totally into it — following the actors around and exploring rooms on her own. I wanted to make her visit memorable and she was completely open to trying this new, bizarre thing. It was the best — for us both.

Don’t go through my stuff.

You will find sex toys. Sorry for party rocking.

Be gracious.

You’re on a relaxing vacation, but I’ve spent all day showing you around. This is not my vacation. I love seeing you! I love having fun and getting a chance to show you where I live, but this is not convenient for me. In fact, apart from the fun of hanging out with you, it is really tiring to host someone in your home.

By being gracious, I don’t mean sending me a thank you note or bringing me a bottle of wine. (But hey…) I mean, just be kind and respect that I’m doing you a solid here. I could have seen you on your trip, without letting you invade my personal space. Instead I opened my bed and/or couch to you.

So just be cool, okay? TC mark

image – Shutterstock


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  • Emil Caillaux


  • Sophia

    Thanks for this. Growing up, it’s made me sad to realize how many people don’t do these things.

  • MP9090909

    You went camping? I thought us Jews were only allowed to go to camp, and not actually camp.

    • Anonymous

      Camping in the woods, summer camp and concentration camp! We Dunns do it all.

      • Michaelwg

        You went there, 10 points!

  • Anonymous

    Great advice, but kind of a bummer that it needs to be said. 

  • dipitlow

    last guest I had party rocked with MY sex toy! I was like omg at least invite me. ppl are so gross 

    • Anonymous

      GTFO. Wow.

  • Michi

    I love that you had to write a real-sized TARDIS… from Dr. Who :P

  • Eli Weinbach

    Luke Skywalker never saw the inside of his tauntaun – it was eaten by the wampa. It was Han Solo’s tauntaun that was destined to be cut open for its body heat. Still, Han probably took great care of his tauntaun’s intestines. He’s the classy kind of space smuggler.
    The above (geeky and unnecessary) correction is my only critique. Great thought!

  • snickers

    oh oh, also? Don’t assume that the person whose house you’re staying at is also on vacation. That means no bitchy guilt trips about not being able to go out and party on a Tuesday night. 

  • DrExcited!

    Pretty sure next week on my trip to NYC it is totally my plan to visit the bar with the Tardis!!!! And generally be a good guest, of course.  :P

  • Waicool

     yellow is mellow but please flush after doing that solid

    • LP

      just flush in general…

  • Priyanka Sharma

    6. Don’t borrow stuff that eventually goes in your suitcase.

    Seriously, manners seem like a thing of past now.

  • Anonymous

    OMG. Is there really a bar in Brooklyn with a Tardis!????

    • Leisa

      RIGHT!? How did I miss this when I was there?? *tears of infinite sadness*

    • Anonymous

      It’s called the Way Station. How did no one know about this? It’s a real TARDIS and when you walk inside, it’s bigger on the inside — because it’s the bathroom. SO COOL.

  • Anonymous

    Okay, thank you. I recently hosted some people at my flat for a few days, and I felt *so guilty* whenever I just wanted to lay in my bed for a little bit instead of doing something SuPeR fUn!!1 24/7.

  • Guest

    This is so true! I have friends who live in the city and still act like guests from hell whenever they come over.

  • Michelle

    Don’t sleep until noon. Especially if you are sleeping on the pull-out couch in the living room of a one-bedroom apartment, thereby creating a hostage situation for your host in her own bedroom.

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