The holidays are a time for cheer, love and visiting with friends and family, near and far. In the case of the latter, you may end up staying with friends or family for a few days.
While they’re happy to have you, your stay is both costly and potentially stressful for the host—and “if you’re not a master of houseguest etiquette, you might come off as ungrateful and inadvertently ruin your chances of visiting again next year,” says Alden Vicker, with LearnVest.
Don’t let your family and friends feel the holiday hosting stress—take some of the work off their shoulders, and make your stay easier on them, with these simple ideas.
Help With Cooking
Take charge of one or more of the meals during you stay, or simply offer to help chop, prep and cook whenever possible. If you want to cook a whole meal, work with the host to choose something everyone can eat—they’ve likely already checked about allergies of other guests—and then come prepared with everything you need.
Take a few minutes after your arrival to learn your way around the kitchen. When you know where everything is, they can truly sit back and relax while you cook. This will save your host time and money, something everyone’s running low on this time of year.
Pick Up After Yourself
If there’s one thing you should always do when staying with someone else for the holidays, it’s this. Pick up after yourself. Keep this one simple rule in mind: always leave a space the way you found it, if not cleaner.
Don’t forget to make the bed every morning and place dirty linens in the washing room—not on your floor or a chair in the room. When you use the kitchen, wash all the dishes you use and put everything back where it was. In the bathroom, always replenish the empty toilet paper roll and don’t leave wet towels on the floor or on your bed.
Bring Food and Drinks
In the 2017 survey, The Survival Guide for Hosting on a Budget, 60 percent of hosts said they spend the most money on food and drinks every year. This is also an expense that’s easy for you to help offset. The trick is telling, rather than asking, when working with the host. To be nice, they’ll likely say, “No, don’t worry about it, you don’t need to bring anything.” To avoid this, say, “I’d really like to contribute some snacks, drinks or other food. I know you have most of it covered, but what haven’t you picked up yet?”
If they continue pushing back, you could still help by bringing items you know will get used: coffee, teas, breakfast cereal, simple snacks, a case of bottled water or a bottle of wine. Better yet, create your own festive holiday cocktail and bring all the mixings to make it for everyone.
Keep the Host in the Loop With Plans
Communicating with your host is important for having an easy, stress-free stay. If you’re staying overnight and plan to fit in some errands, sightseeing, or visiting with others in the area, always let the host know well ahead of time. Communicating your plans allows them to plan their meal times accordingly and also ensures that you can easily get into the house if they’re not home.
Don’t forget to ask if they have plans as well. Perhaps your host plans to catch an early-morning yoga class—you can use that time to go out to breakfast, or prepare something to be waiting for them when they get home. The more informed both parties are, the smoother the stay will be.
Bring a Gift
Your host would likely never ask for a gift, but showing up without one is considered a faux pas .You should always bring something to thank your host for having you. Just think: if you were staying in a hotel or inn, you would be paying a lot of money for comfortable accommodations. A gift is a way to say thanks and show your appreciation.
Note that the gift doesn’t need to be extravagant. Some great gifts include plants, wine, a basket filled with gourmet foods or beverages, or a gift certificate to a favorite local restaurant. A small gesture goes a long way.
Send a Formal Thank You
Thank you notes may be a lost art, but in the case of staying at someone’s house over the holidays, it’s considered good etiquette to properly and formally thank the host or hostess. Don’t be tempted to send an informal e-mail, either. Good etiquette requires that you take just a few minutes out of your day, get a notecard and paper and write a heartfelt thank you. Experts suggest that you add some details about your time with the host to make it more personable and meaningful.
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This article was written by Jessica Thiefels.