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.
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?