I've been asked to give some advice on the etiquette which is to be observed on various occasions. Today, I chose to write about the dos and don'ts when you are invited to stay with family or friends for a few days.
Many people are unaware of the correct guest etiquette, behaving as if they are in their own home. I know, I know, your host will tell you to make yourself at home. This shows their good manners. It is their way of making you feel welcome and helping you relax. However, the phrase "make yourself at home" does not give you carte blanche to lounge about in pyjamas, hog the sofa, while watching your favourite episode of the Kardashians!
So let's see what is and what is not acceptable behaviour for a house guest to ensure you get a warm welcome in the future and not the cold shoulder.
First of all,
What is Etiquette? Put simply, étiquette (oh la la, another French word) means the proper way to behave in any situation. Proper etiquette may have become, sadly, a thing of the past. Have you noticed that our pop culture is hell-bent on lowering our standards of behaviour? Quel dommage. Anyway, we can talk about this interesting matter in another post.
As a reader of this blog, you are already an elegant, well-mannered person. However, if you are unsure, or need a refresher, about how to behave as a house guest, please read on. After all, there is always room of improvement, n’est-ce pas?
I selected three main tips that I feel are absolute essentials. There are so many other guidelines, but too many for the confines of a simple blog post.
My first tip is most important. It is to respect the host and their home.
- Details of your arrival and departure have to be given well in advance, not when you are on the doorstep, Don't surprise your host by announcing your stay will be longer than previously arranged.
- One sure thing that makes the host’s job easier is a helpful guest. Are you one of those who ask whether you can help out from the comfy sofa, expecting to be told your help is not needed? Get up and do something instead. Clear the table, empty or fill the dishwasher, do the washing up. By the way, it's perfectly fine to tell your tired host to relax while you do all these tasks by yourself. The host will have had so much work to do to prepare for your arrival that they will deserve a bit of downtime.
- Do not spring any of your friends on your host. Remember you're the guest, not your friends.
- Don't roll back to your host's home, inebriated, at 3AM. The host may have had to wait up for you, if you don't have a spare key. Not cool.
Even though your host wants to enjoy your presence during your stay, it is proper etiquette to not be a burden. Ideally, be as unobtrusive as you can.
- Do not invade your host’s cupboard space with your own things. Your toiletries should be placed back into your bag. You have a bedroom, so keep your stuff there. Your handbag, coat, shoes should be placed in your room, not at the front door.
- Don't hog your host's wifi connection.
- Clean up after yourself, this goes without saying. Make your stay an easy time for your host. Thinking of your host, not yourself, is good social etiquette.
Showing appreciation to your host is not optional, ma chère amie.
- Don’t arrive with bare hands. Bring a small gift to give the host on your arrival.
- Towards the end of your stay, thank your guests again by way of a gift, flowers or meal.
- Once back home, a thank you note, email or call is also well received to thank the host again.
To conclude, being an elegant guest, and one who gets invited back, is all down to good manners and consideration for your host. An elegant person is one who makes people feel comfortable in their presence at all times.
If you have been invited to stay with friends or family this Christmas enjoy your stay and have a wonderful Christmas!
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I'm Marie-Anne Lecoeur. I teach women how to upgrade their style and think, shop & dress like a French woman in my Ecourses and The French Chic Academy
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