House guest etiquette?

May 29th, 2001, 01:13 PM
  #1  
Kanga
Guest
 
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House guest etiquette?

Having discovered some regional (and class) differences in what is expected of an overnight guest in the US, I now am wondering about being the perfect guest in Europe.

Here are a couple of areas of uncertainty: should a guest ever help with clear the table, doing the dishes? What about cooking? I've been in some places where it seemed to fluster the hostess if I got up to help clear, or offered to cook or do dishes -- but there were other situations where failing to help was considered rude and selfish. I never feel comfortable just sitting by myself reading or just hanging around talking to a hostess while she prepares a meal, but perhaps that's what's expected?

And what about expectations re: bed-making, bath-cleaning, etc., towel-hanging? I usually make my bed, swab out the bath if there's a sponge, and hang the towels in the bathroom -- but sometimes the hosts don't make their own beds, there's no sponge, and no place to hang the damp towels other than a doorknob.

Finally: here's a really odd one, that comes out of a few minor disagreements with my spouse/travelling companion: Is asking for closet space and extra hangers appropriate for a stay of one or two nights, or a bit much? He unpacks completely for a 12 hr. stay; I don't unpack for less than a 3-night stay, except for the one or two things I intend to wear.

 
May 29th, 2001, 01:20 PM
  #2  
Sheila
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Apart from the fact that I tend to work on the basis that if you are a nice person you won't go far wrong; thatthere are no rules; and if it feels good do it.. I would answer from my perspective as a host, as follows:-
"should a guest ever help with clear the table, doing the dishes?" Ask. If I want your help, I'll say so, if I'm comfortable, I'll say no.

What about cooking? Ditto. I might not want or need help, but it's nice to be asked and have the option. At the very least, it'snice to be kept companywhen preparing food so do that unless your host really doesn't want you in the kitchen.

I never feel comfortable just sitting by myself reading or just hanging around talking to a hostess while she prepares a meal,
Well, that's the host's responsibility. ie, not to make you uncomfortable. Offer, and do what you're asked to after.
And what about expectations re: bed-making, bath-cleaning, etc., towel-hanging? I usually make my bed, swab out the bath if there's a sponge, and hang the towels in the bathroom -- but sometimes the hosts don't make their own beds, there's no sponge, and no place to hang the damp towels other than a doorknob.

Well if you are more houseproud than they are (in my case, a near certainty) don't make them feel bad by highlighting the differences in approach.

Is asking for closet space and extra hangers appropriate for a stay of one or two nights, or a bit much?

Perfectly OK. And a good host should have anticipated the need.

But hey, chill. How hard can it be?
 
May 29th, 2001, 01:22 PM
  #3  
Mel
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Since my family and friends are scattered, we have guests quite often and I think some things are universal, so the country doesn't matter. Here's what I like AND what I do when I visit others: Make the initial offer to help while I cook and, when I say "thanks, anyway," believe me and just have a seat at the kitchen table so we can chat (I can make my way around the kitchen much faster on my own and I have everything well planned). After dinner, join me as I bring plates into the kitchen. Ask for the handywipe and just start wiping everything down while I load the dishwasher--more time to talk. Bathroom etiquette: Please keep it clean! Nothing bugs me more than when you leave my house and I have to get the hairs out of the sink, the toothpaste splatters off the mirror, the... you get the picture! If you don't find any cleaning supplies under the sink, do the best you can with what you have. As for making your bed or keeping your room tidy, I want you to be comfortable, so I stay out of there while you're my guest--do what you wish. The morning you leave, strip the bed, roll back the blankets and bring the sheets down and ask "where's the washer?" No need to run it, just drop them in. You're welcome back to my home anytime!
 
May 30th, 2001, 07:55 AM
  #4  
Karen
Guest
 
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Mel brought up an interesting point, about what to do about bed linens when you leave. My aunt was horrified that I had stripped the bed, told me she prefers guests not "act the maid" and also, she admitted, not see what's under the sheets. My mother-in-law asked me to just pull the covers up neatly so that she could get to the laundry when she had time and not see the empty, "naked" bed. But I prefer that the beds be stripped of sheets and remade with just the coverlet, so it looks tidy until I can put clean sheets on.

Is this a matter of personal style, or are there cultural/national differences?
 
May 30th, 2001, 08:16 AM
  #5  
Oaktown Traveler
Guest
 
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Kanga:

Can't help it... What would your mother SAY? (grin)

Happy Travels

Oaktown
 
May 30th, 2001, 10:36 AM
  #6  
Rachel
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
I've always just asked if the host wants some help. If they say no, I'll get out of the way. I try to keep my room fairly neat (make the bed, even though I don't at home). I'll also do little things, like picking up dirty glasses scattered around, or taking bottles to the recycling bin.

Also, always bring a small gift, or take your hosts out to dinner.
 

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