Do you meet the Debrett’s etiquette standards?
- Always offer to take your shoes off.
“Guests must have their wits about them when they stand on the front doorstep. If their shoes are muddy, then they should remove them on entry. If they are cleanly shod, but confronted by acres of pristine pale carpet, they should also offer to take off their shoes in any case.”
- Meet the dog.
“Introductions must be made to all members of the party, including babes in arms and dogs.”
- Make a proper phone call.
“Whether you are late, or cancelling, don’t hide behind a text. A personal conversation will go some way towards mitigating any irritation, whereas a text looks over-casual or, in some cases, cowardly.”
- You’re entitled to privacy.
“The room is the guest’s territory for the duration of their stay and the host should respect that. However, on departure, guests must tidy up, make the bed (or strip it if that is what the host requires), and remove all traces of their occupancy. Wet towels, dirty teacups and overlooked possessions (stray socks, mobile phone chargers) should all be eradicated.”
- Bring a thoughtful present.
“Bring a present, not necessarily flashy, but thoughtful, for example, some single-malt if you know it’s the host’s particular tipple.”
- Consider the severity.
“The potential seriousness of the problem should be weighed up against the offence and inconvenience that it will cause to the host. Presenting someone with a long, and varied, list of foods to which you have a mild aversion is quite unacceptable; on the other hand, if one commonly served food will make you feel ill and uncomfortable, the host should be told.”
- Decline discreetly.
“It is more polite just to refuse certain dishes as unobtrusively as possible, so that no one will notice. Avoid boring others with fads; if a very strict but temporary regime is being adhered to, consider staying at home.”
- No vaping.
“Many houses will be non-smoking and it is safest to assume that this is the case, unless you are confronted by a roomful of avid smokers. It is also best to assume that a smoking ban applies to e-cigarettes and to remember that vaping is best done in private.”
- Put your phone away.
“It is imperative that both hosts and guests put their gadgets away, look up and focus on the other people in the room. Talking while glancing at a screen looks adolescent and ill-mannered.”
- Foot the bill.
“If you go out with your host – to a pub, restaurant, tea shop – try and pay for the drinks or food. It’s a gesture of gratitude for the hospitality.”
“Nosy guests will find poking around in other people’s possessions and entering â€˜forbidden’ zones endlessly fascinating, but they should remember that staying in someone’s house is not an invitation to invade their privacy.”
- Ask first.
“Unless specifically invited to do the contrary, don’t make yourself too at home. So don’t help yourself to food from the fridge, or alcohol, or turn on the television. Always ask your host first.”
- Drink without drunkeness.
“Over-indulgence is socially unattractive, but complete abstinence can sometimes seem rude, anti-social and holier-than-thou. The good news is that drinking-without-drunkenness is possible.”
- Clean up after yourself.
“Keep the physical evidence of your presence in your host’s house to a minimum and tidy up after yourself – no muddy wellies in the hall, coats discarded in the sitting room, half-drunk cups on every surface. Offer to help (with laying tables clearing dishes, washing up etc.). Your host may well decline your offer, but at least you’ve made the effort.”
- It depends on your dog.
“Only take a dog that is happy sleeping in the car. Even then it is essential to ask first as the host’s dogs may not like other dogs on their patch.”
- Never overstay your welcome.
“The true house guest from hell is the who doesn’t know when to leave. As the expression goes, ‘visitors, like fish, stink in three days’ Confirm both times of arrival and times of departure well before you’re due to show up.”
- Send a personal note.
“Once you’re home, send a handwritten note thanking your hosts for their hospitality. Do this within a day or two of your return.”
Are You A Terrible House Guest?
- You ARE a terrible guest!
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- You’re not a bad guest.
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