Being Aware of These Common Hostess Pet Peeves Will Help You Be a Better Guest This Holiday Season
If a friend or close family member has graciously offered to host you in their home, you want to make sure you're just as gracious when you arrive. But unfortunately, not all guests are—and often make their loved ones regret extending them the invitation to visit entirely. In order to avoid putting strain on or offending your hosts, it's important to steer clear of the most notorious offenses. And to do that, you need to know what those classic "bad guest" behaviors are. Ahead, every hostess' top five pet peeves—and, more importantly, how to avoid them.
Overstaying your welcome.
An invitation to someone's house is not an open offer to stay as long as you'd like—which brings us to what is arguably every host's biggest pet peeve: when guests overstay their welcome. Typically, when your host extends an invitation, it has a clear expiration date—whether that's a few hours, a few days, or a few weeks after you arrive. Whatever the time frame, make sure you respect your host and pack up on schedule. "You want to arrive at the time you say you're going to arrive and depart at the time you say you're going to leave," says etiquette expert Diane Gottsman, author of Modern Etiquette for a Better Life ($9.19, amazon.com) and founder of The Protocol School of Texas.
Treating their home like a hotel—and expecting the same kind of service.
Don't forget that your host's house is actually their home; it's not a hotel, so you shouldn't view it as one. Guests who don't respect their host's territory leave their beds unmade, towels on the floor, and dirty dishes in the sink. "In other words, they don't want to be part of the family," says Gottsman. "They want to be waited on." While in their space, it's important that you treat it with the same—or even more—reverence as you would your own. Make your bed every morning. Pick up after yourself. Do your own dishes and put things away after you use them.
Taking more than your fair share.
Most hosts and hostesses will have plenty of food and drinks available on hand for you to enjoy. And, depending on your relationship with the host, it may be appropriate for you to help yourself. But what isn't appropriate (and is also a huge host pet peeve) is helping yourself to more than your fair share. If you're staying with someone—especially if they have other guests—it's important to be conscious of your consumption and make sure there's enough to go around. And if you do take more than your fair share, you should consider it your job to replace it. For example, "if you're drinking expensive bottles of wine and expensive bottles of whiskey and not even asking [if you can replenish it], that's not appropriate," explains Gottsman.
Overstepping your boundaries.
Your host invited you to stay because they want to spend time with you, not because they want your two cents on how they live their life. Some guests have an awful habit of overstepping their boundaries and offering opinions where they're not warranted—and it's a huge pet peeve for hosts. You might not even be aware that you're making this offense, especially if you're close to the family. Be wary, however, of doing the following: "Reprimanding the children or the pet," says Gottsman. "Or giving advice on how to parent or how to cook." If you do feel the urge to share your opinion, bite your tongue. Remember, you're there as a guest, not as a commentator or life coach.
Bringing up touchy subjects or asking inappropriate questions.
Get-togethers can be a breeding ground for controversial conversations, but there's nothing hosts and hostesses hate more. Obviously, money, religion, and politics are all on the do-not-discuss list, but you also want to avoid asking overly personal questions that could make your host or the other guests uncomfortable. "Refrain from asking, 'When are you going to get married, when are you going to have a baby?'" says Gottsman. "Those are intrusive questions and it needs to just be left off the table."