How to be the best guest this Christmas

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group of women arrive at house with gifts

For some of us, this December could mark the first time in nearly two years that we'll be staying with relatives for Christmas and the new year (government guidance permitting). For this reason, we’ve put together this partly serious, partly humorous guide to being the best possible guest over the festive period

Wherever you’re planning on staying this Christmas, ensure you dazzle your hosts with these top tips for being a completely effortless guest, whom they’ll be inviting back again in no time.

Whether it’s questions around what to get your relatives as presents, worries about sleeping arrangements or discussions over who’s doing the washing up, welcoming visitors at Christmas can be a stressful undertaking. So, this Christmas period, make it easier on your loved ones by following our eight simple tips that will turn even the slovenliest visitor into a golden guest. 

And for those who are concerned they might’ve forgotten how to be a good guest after 18 months of lockdown, fear not, your questions are answered here. From how long to stay, to what to bring, our guide has you covered. So read on for reliable tips and be assured that you will be invited back next year sooner than you can say turkey.

1. Don’t overstay your welcome…

man napping on sofa at christmas

There’s nothing worse than a visitor who just won’t take the hint. A good host will never ask you to leave, but there is nonetheless an acceptable amount of time to stay as a guest and it’s a good idea to try not to push this. Unless your host has specified how long they’re willing to extend their hospitality, a good general rule of thumb is to stay no longer than three days. Eventually even the most welcoming friends are desperate to kick-back and take a break from entertaining for a while. Of course, Christmas, Twixmas and new year constitute an entirely unique portion of the calendar, (and it’s been 18 months since the last big family knees-up), so most rules are out of the window!

2. Bring your own toiletries…

bathroom toiletries

Unless you’re staying with someone unusually accommodating this year, don’t expect hotel-sized toiletries to be provided to you during your Christmas stay. You shouldn’t expect to have free access to your host’s toiletries at your leisure either. If you find you’ve forgotten your toothpaste, it’s of course ok to inquire to borrow some, but don’t use more than a reasonable amount and definitely don’t take the tube with you when you leave.

3. Offer to help…

woman doing washing up

When you’re staying in somebody else’s home, it is the time to be overly helpful. Whether that’s through assisting with dishes, or just generally helping with keeping the house neat and tidy, it’s important that you help to clear up the mess as well as create it. A good rule of thumb is to try to leave things even cleaner than you found them, so if you’ve enjoyed a cooked dinner, offer to clean the kitchen afterwards. Clear your own dishes when you’re finished eating, and if you feel familiar enough, offering to make cups of tea or coffee is a nice touch too.

4. Keep your bedroom and bathroom spick and span…

man making bed

As with the above point, keeping your bedroom and bathroom as clean as possible is a great way to show your host your appreciation for their hospitality. Before you leave, double and triple check the bedroom and bathroom for any belongings you might’ve left behind, strip the bedsheets, pillowcases and duvet and leave them in a neat pile at the foot of the bed. Finally, do a quick wipe down of the bathroom counter or sink to make sure there’s no toothpaste or loose hairs left behind.

5. Bring a top-notch Christmas gift…

person unwrapping christmas present

An appreciative visitor always brings along a gift, and at Christmastime this is doubly important. It doesn’t have to be something prohibitively expensive or extravagant either. All you need is a little something that demonstrates a little thoughtfulness and gratitude. Think perhaps, a beautifully bound coffee-table book, a bottle of good wine or even a bunch of flowers. It doesn’t have to break the bank to show that you care. And if you’re particularly well acquainted, why not go even further and get them something they really need and are likely to use, like a new tea set or a some beach towels. 

6. Don’t use your hosts things or go through their belongings…

little girl peeking in cupboard

This should go without saying, but however tempted you might be to snoop on possessions or use your host’s computer without permission, this is a big ‘no’ for conscientious visitors. Respecting privacy is integral to being a good guest, and that includes not using their landline without permission. More than anything, it’s important to demonstrate the same respect and privacy that you would expect to be given to you. 

7. Limit your phone time

group of people using smartphones at dinner

However much you might be glued to your smartphone at home, it’s important to limit the time you spend on your mobile while you’re staying at someone else’s. If you spend too much time on your phone, you run the risk of giving the impression your company is boring you (plus you might be boring them too). Being glued to a screen can make others feel as though there’s somewhere else, you’d rather be. Facebook can wait, try to be present (pun not intended) while you’re staying with others this Christmas.

8. Send a handwritten thank-you note…

person writing thank you on piece of paper

A lovely touch after your stay is over, is to send a handwritten thank-you note. Try to include details about your stay, the things you enjoyed, mention how much you enjoyed a particular meal and remember to say how much you appreciate being invited to stay. Not only does this demonstrate that you are sincerely grateful for the hospitality, but it also goes a long way to securing an invite back (provided you carefully followed steps one to seven of course!)

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