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Being a good guest can take almost as much practice, forethought and preparation as a host. Whether it is an invitation for a casual dinner, formal party, weekend visit or extended stay, the best barometer to gauge visitor skills is receipt of a return invitation. In other words, if it has been a successful visit, the person will be asked to do this again.

A few key ingredients to guest etiquette can help assure that your company will be welcome at another time. While some may appear to be obvious, this list contains components worth repeating…


1. Respond to invitations in a timely manner. No one wants to guess how many people will be arriving, staying or eating.
2. Use the words please and thank you. No one is too old for the magic words.
3. Eliminate slurping and bodily noises. If necessary, ask to be excused and go into the bathroom to release all the bodily fumes, gases and fluids!
4. Be prompt. Respond when dinner is ready.
5. Offer assistance as needed. Try to be helpful if you see the host can use an extra pair of hands.
6. Respect other people’s property. No snooping in bathroom cabinets, drawers and closets!
7. Be considerate of resources. Turn off lights, water faucets, and take short showers.
8. Follow the culture of the home. Every home has there own unspoken rules, take note by observing the actions of others in the house.
9. Remember to thank the host for a lovely time. An appropriate, carefully chosen gift, such as chocolates, plants, wine and a written note, will always be appreciated.
10. Kindness goes a long way and guarantees a return invite!

Everyone seems to have jumped in on the etiquette bandwagon. Susan Blond's blog for the Village Voice offers tips to visitors and a litany of humorous suggestions for the weekend guest, such as feet off the furniture and certainly no picking at them!

Think about experiences that you have had and practice the positive. Envision the type of guest you would like to host and become that person. To help children meet success as their role of “guest,” role-play responses to situations that may arise in the homes of others. Teaching them the social skills at an early age will certainly ensure that their presence will be welcomed in the company of others in the years to come.

Finally, remember to have fun! Clearly the host enjoys spending time with you, which is probably why you were invited in the first place…