Holiday House Guests: What NOT To Do


Many of you are heading to visit friends and family over the holidays. If you want your hosts to be happy twice – one when you arrive and once when you leave, be sure to follow this advice. You won’t have to worry about being invited back…..which for some of you, might be the goal!

Keep your hosts guessing as to when you are arriving and when you are leaving. Come on people! Your hosts have lives and schedules too and need to know so they can build their schedule around you as much as possible.

Come empty handed. A hostess gift is always a nice and appreciated touch. During your conversations previous to the visit, make sure to ask, “What can I bring?”

Don’t clean up after yourself. After a meal or just after hanging out. Leaving your messes everywhere indicates a lack of common courtesy and respect. And clean up after your kids too!

Leave the guest room and area where you stayed a mess. No need to take out the toilet bowl cleaner, but a quick tidy in the area where you stayed.  Ask the host of they would like the bedding stripped and where they’d like the dirty towels.  I had a blog subscriber recently share with me that her daughter-in-law left her baby’s dirty diapers in the guest room, along with used tissues. Yuck! Nothing like bodily excretions mementos to put you on the “We can’t wait to have you back!” list.

Share with the entire house your personal matters. I’m not talking drama personal matters, but bodily functions “personal matters”. If you have guest bathroom, use it! Don’t do it in the powder room. This is a HUGE pet peeve of one of my friends! She makes me laugh each time she brings it up and suggests I put it in a blog….so here it is J!

Relax and make yourself at home. You’re a guest, so be on your best guest behavior. For some, it can be a challenge to be staying at another’s home because they can’t let it all hang out (I’m not being literal!). If you must lay around in your boxers, burping, please do so in the room where you are staying, not in a more shared areas such as the family room. It’s a fine balance between relaxed formality and acting too comfortable.

Allow your hosts to wait on you hand and foot and plan every moment of your visit.  Kinda like a personal maid and tour guide. Offer to help around the house, with meals or make a suggestion for an evening out. Perhaps you can even treat your hosts to dinner!

Let your kids roam and be wild. After all, this is  a little get-away for you. Monitor your kids. By nature they like to explore. Don’t let their exploring take them into Uncle Ralph’s underwear drawer or Civil War military ammunition collection. Also make sure that you clean up after your kids.  If they are old enough, make sure they are cleaning up after themselves!

Expect your hosts to drop everything just to entertain you 24/7. Did I mention they too have a life that continues – guests or not. Expect that you’ll have to assimilate to their lives. Everyone needs a little privacy as well. If you are staying for an extended time, plan a time for you and yours to do something on your own – a short  excursion or  a walk. Of course you’d invite your hosts, but they might kindly decline and take advantage of the time to catch their breath.

Be totally connected to your technology all the time. Leave use of your smart phones, tablets and laptops for down-time or bed-time. Not when you should be having fun with your hosts.

Once you leave, don’t convey your genuine thanks for the hospitality. Tsk, Tsk, tsk! Always, always, always  follow up with a phone call, a thank you card or a text. The type of thanks depends on the situation. Better to be overly thankful vs. appearing ungrateful. This is a BIGGIE!

Be a gracious guest and mind your manners this holiday season and always!




  1. Excellent article with great timing – people don’t have the same attention to respectful behavior that they once did. And oh boy, the thank you note – do not ever skimp on gratitude. Even if you were a hot mess when visiting, a good thank you note can save you!

    Maybe one more would be… don’t treat your host home as if it’s a hotel – make sure a good portion of your available quality time is spent with the hosting party… in other words, don’t have an ulterior motive that is unknown to the host when you plan your visit.

    • Kelly

      Thank you for your comments Kelly! I love the additional gracious guest tip you added! Very wise advice on one of the more “hidden or passive” bad etiquette moves on behalf of the guest.

  2. I’d like to add: please buy all holiday gifts BEFORE you arrive. Your hosts may have already done their shopping because they don’t want to go to the busy stores. It’s very unfair to fill their holiday with daily trips to the malls to buy their presents!

Leave a Reply to Kelly Heck Cancel reply

Nothing's Finer Than A Fine Young Diner


Use these table manners tips to turn your child into a delightful diner!  Read Kelly’s article as featured in Eastern Home and Travel Magazine.

fine young diner article

Pack Your Manners


Traveling with kids? Read Kelly’s article as published in Eastern Home & Travel

Networking Etiquette: What Do You Know?


Thank you to Team Network for having me as their guest speaker at their Netfast in Rockville, MD. Click on the link to watch our netiquette discussion.

Team Network Netfast

Manners Schmanners! Read Kelly’s Interview in FindIt Frederick!