If you have been invited to stay at a friend’s house or cottage for a few days there are definitely some rules of etiquette you should follow in order to be a good house guest.
As a rule of thumb it is always appropriate to bring some kind of gift for the house when you arrive. This can be flowers, a centerpiece for the table or a bottle of wine. Chocolates, a picture of some sort in a frame or an item for the person’s garden is also usually appreciated. This gives your host a keepsake that will help remind him or her of your visit. A jar of homemade jam or cookies you have made also makes a nice gift. Make sure the gift is appropriate. For instance, do not bring a jug of sugary lemonade to a diabetic host’s home.
Before you enter a home always ask if you should take off your shoes. This is not mandatory in most homes but the offer to remove them is a sign of honor and respect for your friend in many cultures.
Remember that being someone’s house guest is not the same as being in a hotel. There are no maids and you will be expected to clean up after yourself. Making your own bed, picking up after yourself and wiping up spills in the bathroom is expected. To impress your hostess make your bed as neatly as possible. Be sure to throw any towels you have in a laundry hamper. Do not leave anything in a heap and make sure that all of your clothes are hung up and not draped over the bed or chairs.
To be a good houseguest you should also ask permission before you use any major appliance or tool in the home including the washer or dryer, dishwasher or vacuum cleaner. If you do end up borrowing something from your host (like a blow-dryer) you should always put it back just as you found it. This is especially important because sometimes appliances are finicky or even dangerous to use because they are broken.
It is also polite to offer to do simple chores for your host such as set the table, dry the dishes or sweep the floor. Offering to take care of these little tasks can go a long way to getting you invited back to your guest’s home for a second visit. It is also a lovely gesture to send a thank-you card back to your host to show them how much you appreciate their invitation. Be sure to send it by mail and not by email — before you know it you will be invited back!