The Etiquette of Overnight Hosting & Guesting 🏡
A Guide by Life School
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An overnight invitation - whether with a friend, family member, or new romantic prospect - is an honor, and responsibility! Both hosting and guesting can lead to awkward or uncomfortable interactions. As Benjamin Franklin famously said, "Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days." Whether hosting or guesting, a little etiquette know-how can go a long way towards receiving that coveted return invite. Let's dive in.
Part I: Hosting
Invite your guest(s) & set the dates.
Ask about dietary restrictions.
Share your address & relevant instructions (e.g., gate code).
Prepare the guest room (e.g., wash linens, make the bed).
Stock the kitchen & bathroom (see reference guides below).
Host with style!
📝 Notes, Tips & Tricks:
Before & Upon Arrival
If a guest is flying in, ask for arrival & departure information so you can track easily. If your home is in a remote area, offer to help your guests figure out transportation.
Seek to make your guests feel welcome (e.g., ask about any special requirements or needs, show excitement for their visit).
Upon arrival, greet your guests and show them to the room and bathroom they will use. Show them how to adjust the heating or air conditioning and where the light switches are. Give them a moment to relax and get settled.
Share your routine with your guests and give them a heads up on any absences. (e.g., "Monday evening I have a work dinner, but let's plan on getting dinner together on Tuesday.”)
The more comfortable the bedding, the happier your guest will be. While it's tempting to skimp on guest pillows & sheets, provide bedding you would be excited to sleep in.
Want to provide next-level sleeping arrangements? Provide a couple of different types of pillows (e.g., soft, medium).
During the Stay:
Aim to make your guests feel as comfortable as possible by being attuned to their needs.
Instruct your guests to help themselves to the kitchen or bar. If there is anything you don't want to share, tuck it away.
Have some activities in mind to do with your guests, but also leave them time to relax or explore independently.
Share with them some of your favorite restaurants, hikes, local museums, or other activities in the area.
After the Stay:
Assist your guests with their departure. (e.g., help them figure out transportation, see them to the door).
Thank them for any gifts or contributions and for the time together.
Take a moment to relax!
📓 Kitchen Stocking Reference Guide
Morning Beverage (highly recommended): Coffee or black tea; milk (or dairy-free alternative), sugar/honey
Breakfast (recommended): Bread & butter/jam, granola, yogurt, fruit (e.g., bananas, berries, apples); eggs
Snacks (optional): fruit, crackers, cheese, nuts, olives, chocolate
Afternoon/evening beverage (recommended): wine, beer, sparkling water, juice, herbal tea
Information (highly recommended): Wifi login (ideally written or printed)
📓 Bedroom Stocking Reference Guide
Bedding (recommended): comfortable pillows, extra blanket, fresh sheets
Closet (recommended): Hangers and space, 1-2 empty drawers
Other (optional): a carafe of water and drinking glasses, reading material (a newspaper or magazine), extra phone charger, a snack.
📓 Bathroom Stocking Reference Guide
Shower (recommended): shampoo, conditioner, soap (e.g., liquid, wrapped/fresh bar)
Sink (optional): toothpaste, extra toothbrush, sunscreen, body lotion
Misc (recommended): hairdryer, feminine supplies, toilet paper, plunger, toilet brush
Part II: Guesting
Receive invitation graciously (e.g., "thank you so much!")
Accept or politely decline.
Schedule transportation & other relevant logistics (e.g., cat sitter).
Procure host(ess) gift.
Arrive & enjoy!
📝 Notes, Tips & Tricks:
When receiving an invitation, either accept or reject promptly within a couple of days. Do not waffle or ask to "play by ear"; this can signal that you aren't excited to spend time with your host. It can also make it difficult for the host to plan (e.g., stocking the fridge).
Do not cancel unless necessary.
In general, plan to stay no more than three nights. If your host is a close friend or you have visited before, it is common to stay longer. Listen to your intuition.
Offer to bring treats & supplies (e.g., unique items from where you live, things you can pick up on the way).
Share your expected arrival and departure times with your host, and do your best to be prompt.
Offering some gift or token of appreciation upon arrival is suggested but not required. You can also provide a gift upon departure.
The best gifts are personalized & shareable (e.g., if the host has children, bringing something the whole family can enjoy).
Upon Arrival & During the Stay
Upon arrival, greet your host, share your gift, and thank them for hosting you.
Minimize your impact as much as possible; a great guest doesn't add much work to the load. Be tidy and keep your items contained in your bedroom/area.
Make your bed each morning and keep your room relatively organized (e.g., no clothes on the floor).
If your host offers you hangers or drawer space, unpack & use them.
Keep the bathroom clean & tidy (e.g., wipe the counters, hang towels, tidy the countertops, clear the drain of hair).
Bring your toiletries; do not use your host's supplies without asking first.
Help your host with their daily routine (e.g., offer to set the table, wash the dishes, make a favorite dish, or keep their children entertained).
Always help clean up after meals unless you are firmly told not to. At the very least, clear your plates & dishes.
Offer to help with errands (e.g., a grocery run, gassing the car)
If you use the kitchen or any other common areas, leave it cleaner than you found it. (See The Daily Kitchen Cleaning routine for more information).
Respect your host's plans and schedule (e.g., be timely, allow your host privacy, check with your host before making plans with others).
If making plans with others, it's nice to invite your host, but not necessary. Keep your host in the loop on your plans, however, regardless of their invite status.
If visiting a friend with roommates, it's nice to gift something that the whole group can enjoy. You're visiting their space, too.
Ask your host how they would like you to leave the bedroom (e.g., make the bed or strip the sheets).
Leave on time and thank your host.
If you didn't bring a gift, order/procure one.
The next day, follow up with your host by sending a thoughtful thank you note. While handwritten is traditional, email is now commonly accepted.
✍️ Sample Thank You Note:
Thank you so much for hosting me this past weekend. What a fantastic time I had! From walks to cooking together to binging on The Great American Baking Show - everything was just so much fun. Getting to spend some quality time together was incredibly special. How lucky I feel to have you as a friend. I can't wait to see you out in New York in a few weeks!
Lots of love,
📓 Host(ess) Gift Reference Guide
Food & Beverage: Wine, champagne, olive oil, chocolates, cookies, herbs, spices, gourmet salts
Household items: candle, set of linen/cloth napkins, dish towels
Plants: cut flowers, herb, orchid, indoor plant (ideally potted)
Other/Misc: book (e.g., one you have enjoyed or think they would appreciate), board game/puzzle
During/After the Stay:
Financial contribution: Covering the bill (e.g., for an outing, restaurant meal, or groceries)
Household items they don't have (e.g., cheese board, pitcher)
Liquor (especially if you consumed a decent amount during your stay)
Flowers (can't go wrong)
🎓 Further Study:
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