How to be the perfect house guest

We asked the nation for their do’s and don’ts of being the perfect house guest and offer top tips on being a great host.

When it comes to hosting guests, everyone takes a different approach; some people have house rules they expect visitors to follow, whilst others are happy for them to act the way they usually would in their own homes.

We recently carried out research to find out which rules people in the UK just can’t bear to be broken when hosting guests, as well as finding out the things that show you simply feel at home at someone else’s house. Whether it’s rummaging through the fridge or putting the kettle on, we’ve uncovered the dos and don’ts of being a great house guest, plus some top tips on being the perfect host.

According to our research*, the number one no go when visiting someone else’s home is taking a look through their fridge uninvited, with 72% of people finding this to be the rudest etiquette. Other behaviours, such as changing the TV channel without asking (68%) and playing on your phone (67%), also emerged as things to avoid when you’re in someone else’s home. On the other hand, putting the kettle on (59%) and eating on the sofa in the living room (58%), were found to be signs that guests felt comfortable enough to make themselves at home.

Tips for guests

Whether you're crashing with a friend for convenience, invited for a leisurely stay at your relative’s, or headed to your future in-laws' place for the first overnight visit, house guest etiquette matters.

Here are three house guest etiquette rules to follow, no matter who you're staying with or how long you plan to be there.

1. Ask about house rules

When you arrive, kindly enquire about how things are done to avoid an awkward situation. Ask questions that will give you a good idea of how things work in the house. Anything you should know about the rooms, such as which you’re welcome to go in and which to avoid? Should you use the remote?

Pick up on other house rules—like whether you should take your shoes off or if you shouldn’t bring your phone to the dinner table—by following your host’s lead.

2. Limit using your phone

Spending too much time with your face glued to the screen will make your hosts feel like they’re boring you, like there’s somewhere else you’d rather be, or someone else you’d rather be spending time with. This is particularly prevalent at dinner time, so when sitting down to eat be sure to leave your phone elsewhere.

Try to limit screen time around your hosts and only check emails, texts and social media in the privacy of your own room.

3. Respect the furniture

It's important to remember that this is not your house. Visitors often treat their host’s home as they would their own, which depending on the relationship with the host could lead to awkward situations.

While some things are a sign that you‘re comfortable, our research found others crossed the line into coming across as rude. For example, you should only put your feet up on the furniture if you know the host well and you’re both comfortable with this (but definitely don’t do it with shoes on). If you happen to have brought a four-legged friend along with you for your visit, never allow them on the seats unless you know this is something your host is okay with.

Tips for hosts

When it comes to hosting, regionally, those in Liverpool are most likely to tell their guests if they don’t follow the rules (29%), whereas those in Leeds are least likely to tell them so, with just 15% of Leeds locals willing to have the awkward conversation. But how do the cities in the UK compare?

Top 10 cities most likely to tell their guest that they’re not following the rules are:

  1. 29% Liverpool
  2. 28% Belfast
  3. 24% London
  4. 23% Southampton
  5. 22% Nottingham, Sheffield
  6. 21% Norwich
  7. 20% Bristol,
  8. 19% Glasgow
  9. 18% Cardiff
  10. 17% Newcastle

To upgrade your hosting skills and ensure you master any hosting duties, we've compiled three tips on the art of making any guests feel welcomed in your home.

1. Provide slippers for guests

This is probably the most difficult house rule for people to maintain with guests, simply because many find it awkward to ask. A strategically placed shoe cubby will make it obvious and easy for guests to slip off footwear as they enter.

Consider placing a wicker basket next to it filled with various sizes of unisex slippers for guests to wear inside. This will eliminate awkwardness for those who aren’t wearing socks or those who may feel uncomfortable in bare feet.

2. Use of appliances

If you have any appliances that you'd rather your guests not use, be sure to let them know about it as soon as possible. Appliances that can be unplugged may be best placed away in a cupboard to stop guests from helping themselves.

Some people might not know how to use every appliance, such as coffee machines, so it can be a good idea to show guests how they work so they don’t run into trouble trying to figure it out themselves.

3. Anticipate their needs

Whilst your guest is attending your home, you can make them feel extra comfortable by anticipating their needs and removing the need for them to ask. For example, if they’re staying over, showing them to their room and allowing them a few minutes to settle in and sort their suitcases/baggage might also be useful.

Also, consider providing them with the WiFi password on arrival – our research found this to score highly in terms of the things that make people feel comfortable in someone else’s home.

Simply put, being a warm and welcoming host whilst also being clear on any rules and boundaries really help you and your guest get the most out of your experience together.

For more useful tips and tricks, visit: https://www.furniturechoice.co.uk/inspiration/how-tos/

Sources:

*Survey of 2,000 UK people by The Leadership Factor on behalf of Furniture And Choice in July 2021

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