32 things you should absolutely do the next time you're staying at someone else's house

Here are your instructions for becoming the dream houseguest…

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Being a dream houseguest isn't difficult, but it does require a delicate balance between ensuring you are comfortable in someone else's home while also being polite, considerate and grateful to your hosts. After all, you are setting up camp in their home at least overnight, if not for a few days.

Your hosts will likely want you to be as comfortable as you can at their home, but this doesn't mean you should treat their property exactly as you would your own. Staying at someone else’s house requires complete respect for the fact that you are coming into their space, with their preferences, routines, and belongings. So it's important to act accordingly and be polite, respectful and courteous. You don't need to help them organise their kitchen or declutter their living room - it's all about tidying up after yourself. 

If you’re wondering about the best ways to behave the next time you stay over at a family member or friend's home then follow these tips - we're confident you'll even get invited back again.

32 things you should do the next time you're staying at someone else's house

Bring a small gift

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Avoid arriving empty-handed to your host's home – instead, consider bringing along a small gift as a token of your appreciation for letting you stay. It doesn’t need to be an extravagant, expensive present by any means. Picking up something inexpensive and small but meaningful is a great way to get your stay off to a brilliant start, and to show your host that you're grateful for their hospitality. Perhaps your host loves wine – in which case, why not purchase and affordable bottle of their favourite red or white? 

If not, items like candles are always a lovely homely gift - and if you don't know what scents they like or they have young children, opt for a flameless candle. Finally, if all else fails, treats such as a box of chocolates or their favourite baked goods are bound to go down well.

Gift ideas we're confident your host will love

Take your shoes off

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Whether your hosts insist on this or not, it’s good manners to take your shoes off at the front door of someone else’s home – or to least offer to do so, especially if you’ve been wearing them all day and the weather outside is bad! If your host has carpet in their home, this is also an excellent idea, and will likely be hugely appreciated.

In case you’ve worn sandals or flip flops all day, or any other type of shoe without a sock, it may be wise to also bring along a pair of house slippers or a comfortable pair of socks, to ensure that you aren't walking around their home in bare feet.

Hang your coat up and put shoes away

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If it's cold outside and you've arrived at your host's home wearing a coat, blazer or gilet, it's best to avoid simply fling said overcoat over a chair, the sofa or the bannister, as you might in your own home! 

Instead, ensure you ask where you should hang up any outside clothing as soon as you arrive - this might be on a coat rack, or inside a closet. Whatever it is, it’s always best to ask what they prefer – especially if it has been raining outside!

And in any case, your host will likely offer to take your coat from you as soon as you enter their home – but if they don't, always be sure to ask.

Be on time

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If you’ve agreed on an arrival time to begin your stay, you should do everything in your power to ensure you stick to this. Most of us would agree that there's nothing worse than waiting around at home for someone to arrive and them being 15 minutes, half an hour, or even an hour late, especially if that arrival time is in the middle of the day. Consider that your hosts may have prepared dinner or lunch for you, or might have somewhere to go later in the day after your arrival. So you must show up when you said you would.

However, an important caveat to this is that you also should do what you can to avoid arriving at their home too early. There’s every chance that they are using all the time available immediately before your arrival to get the space ready for you; so don’t put them under undue pressure by arriving half an hour early, either.

Offer to help set the table

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Many people arrive at their host’s home before a meal being served – be it lunch or dinner. Or, if you’re staying the night, your first meal with them might be breakfast. 

While it’s likely that your hosts will have food prepared to serve you, you should absolutely offer to help them set the table, or assist with bringing out glasses, plates or cutlery. It’s arguably the least you can do if they’ve agreed to prepare a meal for you!

However, if they truly insist that they don’t need any help, respect their wishes and sit back and relax. Remember that they may prefer to get everything sorted themselves, too.

Be gracious with offers of food and drink

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If your host offers cups of tea and snacks to you throughout your stay, being polite – whether you want to accept their offer or not – is essential. If you don't want anything, a simple ‘I’m full right now, but thank you so much’ is the perfect response. And of course, if you do fancy a drink or a snack, gratefully accept their offer!

Conversely, if you feel comfortable and it’s the right environment (e.g. you are very close to your host, or have known them a long time), let them know that you're happy to head to the kitchen to grab them anything they might want or need throughout the day too.

Obey their house rules

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As a guest in someone else's home, it’s important to respect that they will have their own rules and preferences for how everything runs that you'll need to be aware of and obey – remember, they'll have these preferences for a reason!

This may be as simple as taking your shoes off at the door, or it may be that they prefer for the house to be quiet from 10pm in order to ensure adequate sleep for early starts in the morning. Whatever it may be – as long as it’s reasonable – make sure you are respecting the way in which they prefer their home to operate.

Don’t walk around in inappropriate clothing

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We’re all entitled to walk around our own homes in various states of undress – perhaps as we dash to and from the bathroom in the morning or evening, or head into the kitchen in our robe for a hot drink first thing in the morning.

However, if you are staying at someone else's home, it’s best to avoid walking around in anything too casual, or anything that may be deemed inappropriate –especially if other family members or friends are around too. If in doubt, pop on some casual wear, such as a jumper or a pair of tracksuit bottoms, to avoid any awkward occurrences early in the morning or late at night!

Let them know when you’re using the bathroom

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It’s polite to inform your hosts when you’re planning to use the bathroom for any extended period. No, we’re not taking about letting them know every time you’re going to use the *ahem* facilities. But if you’re planning on taking a bath, a shower, or perhaps want to use the room for some extended self-care, such as shaving or applying a face mask, it’s courteous to let them know you’re headed in there, so that they too can plan their day/morning/evening around the availability of the bathroom, especially if there is only one in the house. Plus, they may need to make a quick dash to the loo themselves before you go in there for longer than a few minutes!

Allow your hosts to use the bathroom first

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In a similar vein, if you’re planning on nipping to the bathroom to get ready for the day, or want to use it before heading to bed, it’s best to allow your hosts to use the space before you, if they haven't been in already.

After all, this is their home, and they should be allowed to use the space before you if they need to. That said, there’s every chance that they’ll allow you to pop in before them, as long as you do the polite thing and ask first (and don't spend too long in there brushing your teeth and washing you face). 

Don’t make a mess

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This one arguably goes without saying, but you should endeavour to not make a mess when you’re staying at someone else’s house – and especially a mess that you don't tidy up after.

This means that you should make every effort to return the kitchen to its previous state after cooking yourself a meal, and should generally do what you can to avoid making any mess throughout the communal areas of the home. This may mean tidying up any food or drink detritus that you’ve used and eaten throughout the day, ensuring you’re placing any dirty laundry somewhere inside your luggage (if you aren’t doing any washing at your host's house), and always returning cups/plates/cutlery to the kitchen or dishwasher as soon as you’ve finished with them.

Be quiet and courteous

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In someone else's home, you should always ensure you're being quiet and respectful as you and your hosts go about your days. 

For example, it’s only fair that if you’re watching the TV, you don't turn the volume up too loud so as to disrupt someone upstairs studying or working. If you're listening to music, consider putting headphones in so that the rest of the house doesn't need to hear your personal playlist – and of course, if you're taking a phone call, do so quietly, or even outside, so as to provide minimal disruption and interruption to your hosts. 

Of course, this doesn't apply if you and your host are spending time together enjoying a drink/watching a movie – in which case, there's no need to be too quiet!

Don’t demand you watch your TV shows

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Its only polite that when you’re sharing someone else's house, they should get the monopoly over the use of the television come the evening. 

Remember, you are stepping into their world and their space for a few days, so if they love tuning into their favourite Tuesday night sitcom come 8pm, make an effort to sit and enjoy it with them, rather than demanding that you watch whatever you fancy at that same time. But that said, if you really don’t want to spend an hour watching a programme you don't enjoy, you should feel comfortable having a polite and honest conversation, to reach a happy compromise.

Help with house jobs if required

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If you’re staying at a friend or family member’s house for an extended period of time and notice that they are keen to get on with some important DIY jobs during your visit, it’s polite to offer to help in any way you can – even if that is simply getting them a cup of tea or coffee while they work. In fact, remember that some people may prefer to get on with things alone, so they may prefer that you don't help. Either way, respect the way they want to work.

Similarly, you should always offer to help with more of the daily household tasks when staying over at someone's home too – be it unloading or loading the dishwasher or taking the bins out.

Offer to pick them something up if you’re leaving the house

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If you’re heading out during your stay at a friend or family member's home, offer to pick up anything they might need for the day/the next day while you’re out.

You’re not offering to do all of their shopping for them. Instead, you're simply letting them know that you’ll be near a store if they need coffee, snacks, or an ingredient for dinner. It's something they're likely to really appreciate, and it's an important way to show that you are happy to pitch in, especially if they ask you to pick up something for a dinner you'll also be enjoying!

Keep your sleeping area tidy

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If you are sleeping on a sofa, or somewhere in the communal areas of your host’s home for a night or so, you must keep the space as clean, clear and sanitary as possible, so that others within the household can comfortably use this space during the day, too.

This might involve cleaning up any nighttime detritus from the side table, such as phone chargers and water bottles, or even folding away your duvet and storing it out of sight during the day. Sure, it’s more of a hassle than leaving everything as it is, but if that spot has a different function during the day, it’s polite to clean it up as soon as you wake up.

Don’t park in a way that inconveniences them

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Whether your hosts have a large driveway, or they use on-street parking, it’s essential to respect their right to their own parking space – yes, even if you are staying with them for a few nights! 

Make sure you don’t take the premium spot available by their house or apartment; this is theirs to use, and as their guest, you should be willing to park a little way from their home if you need to. You should also certainly make sure that you don’t block them in by parking across the driveway – especially if they need to be up and about earlier than you the next morning.

Offer to replace and pay for items if you break them

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No one ever imagines that they’ll break something during a stay at someone else’s home, but if the worst does happen and you accidentally break a glass, smash a plate or – dare we say it – knock over a precious vase, it’s important that you do what you can to make up for it.

Your hosts may prefer that you pay for the replacement of the item, or that you actually order said item yourself in order to replace it. However, in many cases (especially if the item you’ve broken is not sentimental or particularly expensive), your hosts will likely politely discourage any need for undue panic – though it’s still essential that you offer to make it right.

Don’t overstay your welcome!

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Even when you're staying over at a close friend or family member's home, you mustn't completely outstay your welcome – because as much as your hosts likely love having you, everyone needs their own space back after a little while.

It’s not that you aren’t welcome to stay as long as you need, but you shouldn't extend the length of your stay without even talking to your hosts. If you feel you need or want to stay a little longer than previously agreed, speak to your friend or family member and have an open and honest conversation to find out if that works for them, too.

Write a thank you card or text after your stay

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Though it may sound old-fashioned, sending your hosts a thank you text, or even a thank you card following your stay with them will likely be hugely appreciated.

A small but thoughtful touch like this shows that you are grateful for their hospitality and it is a lovely way to let them know that you appreciate this effort. A small, genuine gesture like this will also likely ensure that they'll be delighted to have you back should you ever need/want to stay again! So it’s a win-win for everyone.

Strip the bed before leaving

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If you’ve been a guest at a friend or family member’s home for more than a a day or so, its only courteous to ensure you strip off any bedding that you’ve used during your time there (especially if it has been a few days), and at the very least bring it downstairs for your host to wash following your stay, or place it into an appropriate laundry basket for them.

This means taking off your pillowcases, sheet and duvet cover, and perhaps even any extra bedding provided during your stay, such as blankets or mattress protectors. Your friend or family member will certainly appreciate the effort!

Do check that your host wants the bedding removed first however – it may be something they prefer to do themselves once you've left.

Open a window in your sleeping area

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Whether you’re sleeping in a spare room, or on a sofa bed in the living area of your host's home, its a great idea to open a window both during your stay and as you’re preparing to leave, in order to air the room out and create a fresher, more hygienic environment, in lieu of being able to actually give the area a proper clean yourself.

It's best to crack open a window every day that you're staying at your friend or family member's place (weather permitting), and leave it open when you leave to ensure the room is ready for them to go in and clean.

Ensure you bring essentials that your hosts may not have

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When preparing to stay at someone else's house, it makes sense to bring along the essentials you need on a daily basis – be it things like painkillers, sunscreen, or even bandaids if you’re particularly accident-prone – rather than relying on your host to provide these, and rather than using up any of their own personal stash.

That said, if you feel a headache coming on and don’t have any painkillers to hand (for example), you’re obviously well within your rights to ask for some from your host! And they'll likely be more than happy to provide these to help you out.

Be clear about how long you plan on staying

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We mentioned that you should never overstay your welcome when visiting someone else's home, so one thing you should absolutely do is to be clear on how long your actually planning to stay, so that your hosts can ensure their whole household is on board, and that your plans work with their plans, too.

Remember that they are likely to have appointments and commitments going on whilst you’re staying, so an extra night unexpectedly may throw a spanner in the works of their diary.

To avoid this issue, give them a call, text them, or schedule in a quick in-person chat to discuss the length of your stay, so you can come to an arrangement that works for you both.

Stay out of the way of any disagreements

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When you’re spending a few nights staying at a friend or family member’s home, it’s only natural that you might be privy to a few disagreements among family members – perhaps you’ll encounter sisters arguing about shower use, or a couple warring over a particularly stressful dinner preparation!

If you do overhear any disagreements like this, it's best to steer clear - don’t attempt to intervene, and certainly don’t take sides. If you can, make your way out of the room, and lay low until the argument is over!

Restock any groceries you used up

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Your host will usually open up free use of their perishable and essential kitchen items to you during your stay – be it tea bags, coffee bread, condiments or whatever else you may need during your time there.

Though it isn’t essential, your friend or family member is likely to really appreciate you opting to replace anything you used up/finished during your stay, especially if you were there for a few days and went through a significant amount of a certain item.

Replacing their stock means they don’t need to think about it for at least a few days, and can help them to avoid being unexpectedly without something if you used it during your stay. For example, if you drink a lot of coffee and use their supply up during your time at their home, pop to the store before you leave and buy a container of their favourite, so that they aren’t left without the next morning.

Pop any towels and linens into the wash

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We've already suggested stripping your bed linens off before you leave your host's home – but if it feels appropriate, you could also pop all your used bedding and towels into the washing machine and pop it on before you leave too – as long as they don’t need to use the machine themselves at that very moment!

It’s a small gesture but it's only that will likely go a very long way, leaving your host with minimal housework to do after you leave. In fact, it will make any other cleaning that your host has to do after you've left very easy!

Clean up after yourself in the bathroom

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Taken a shower, applied a face mask, or simply spent time brushing and flossing your teeth? If you're staying at someone else's home, it's best to ensure you wipe down the sides in the bathroom after you're finished in there, as no one in the house wants to see any leftover soap or product used by someone else in the space when they go to use it!

After all, it's only good manners to leave a clean bathroom space behind (as you would the kitchen), so grab a clean microfibre cloth before exiting the room and simply give everything a rinse and wipe over.

Limit your phone use

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Though we're all guilty of it, try to avoid using your phone as much as you might usually do if you're staying at someone else's house, especially if you're only staying overnight. 

It's easy for this habit – no matter how innocently you may mean it – to come off a little rude and dismissive, as it can unintentionally suggest that you're not interested in the company of the people whose home you are staying in. So keep phone use to the essential minimum only, and feel free to spend a little more time on your device only when you're back in the privacy of your own sleeping area.

Compliment their home

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Whenever you enter someone's home (especially to stay over), it's always polite to compliment their interior in some way – especially if you sincerely notice a feature, a room, or an item you really do love! It may even be a compliment on the guest bedroom you're staying in.

This kind show of gratitude and appreciation will put you on the front foot for your visit – and there's no denying that it'll make your hosts feel good too.

Make your bed on a daily basis

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This might sound excessive, especially if this isn't something you normally do every day at home – but when staying at someone else's house, you should make the effort to neatly make your bed every day, even if it's unlikely that your host will see the bed themselves. 

By making your bed in the guest bedroom, you'll show your hosts you've got a basic level of respect for their home and their expected cleanliness levels – plus, it means that you are leaving their house/apartment in a good state every day before you go about your own day.

Make your time as enjoyable as possible!

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Finally, one of the most important things to do when staying at someone else’s house is simply to ensure you enjoy the time you have together.

Staying over at someone’s home allows you quality time together in those small moments, that you don’t usually get it you’re just meeting for a quick coffee or dinner. Relish in the fact that staying at their house means you can spend hours of fun together simply relaxing – be it watching a movie, chatting over dinner, or taking part in your favourite hobby together, and do whatever you need to do to make the most of that time.

Aleesha Badkar
Digital Beauty Editor, woman&home

Aleesha is Digital Beauty Editor at woman&home, where she gets to share her expertise into all the best techniques, sharpest tools and newest products—with a particular savvy in skincare and fragrance.

Previously, she was Deputy Editor and Beauty & Fashion Editor for My Imperfect Life, where she headed up the beauty, fashion and eCommerce pages. In the past, she has worked as Shopping Writer at woman&home, gained an AOP awards nomination after working on their news team, contributed to Women's Health, Stylist and Goodto and earned an MA in Magazine Journalism from City, University of London.