Image: By Jacob Lund

Before agreeing to be a houseguest, remember that the CDC is still advising those in the United States to limit interactions with others outside of their homes. Determining when we can resume social activities like being a houseguest, depends on state and local regulations, where we live, and community transmission rates. To decide when it is safe to be a houseguest, follow guidance from your state and local authorities. When it is time, adding additional pandemic protocols will be an additional important factor in being a gracious hostess and making sure that guests feel welcome, relaxed, and comfortable. If you are invited to be a house guest, consider these etiquette tips so you receive a second invitation:

  1. Pre-arrival Precautions: Confirm the host and guest expectations and responsibilities regarding pandemic protocols via email well in advance. Discuss the safety in avoiding handshakes, elbow bumps, and hugs. Suggest waves and verbal greetings. Ask about socializing outdoors. With indoor events, inquire about room ventilation options such as opening windows, and room sizes to allow for social distancing of 6 feet apart. 
  2. Safety Protocols: Pack extra antiviral wipes, face masks, gloves, and any other antibacterial items and use them during your stay. Take advantage of the host’s hand sanitizers and disinfectant wipes. 
  3. Share Your Schedule: Confirm your arrival and departure dates and times—in advance. Then arrive promptly or contact your host if you are running late. Some guests overstay, and some do not stay long enough. Strike the perfect balance and observe a two or three night maximum. Not ready to go? It is the perfect time to leave!
  4. Avoid Surprises: Showing up unannounced or with the unexpected such as an extra guest, a pet, or a child as a “surprise” is beyond inconsiderate and rude to the host who has made special plans. What if your host is highly allergic to all pet dander? Fluff will be going to a nearby kennel.
  5. Keep Fluffy Home: Asking if you can bring your sweet animal places your host in a no-win situation. Arrange for a pet-sitter at your home or a refresher obedience class during your absence. Your host’s family may have pet allergies, fear dogs, or just dislike the hassle. If your pet is invited, only bring a completely house-trained pet with a crate so they are not scampering underfoot.
  6. Show Consideration: As you arrive in your host’s area, text, or call to ask if they need you to stop and bring anything, such as a spur-of-the-moment item from the grocery store. They may need a bag of ice, soft drinks, or something similar. 
  7. Bring a Host or Hostess Gift: Bring a personalized gift that expresses your gratitude in advance, especially when the host is a family member or close friend. Potential gift ideas include stationery, linen napkins, diffusers, candles, local artisan items, a coffee table book, wine, or pre-packaged retail food items. If the host family has kiddos, small children’s gifts will be appreciated. A board game for the entire family is usually a hit!
  8. Adhere to Household Timing: Be on time for meals, including early-bird breakfasts prepared by your hosts. If you want to luxuriously sleep-in, book a nearby AirB&B or hotel. Play well with others by enthusiastically joining planned group activities like games, hikes, and meals.
  9. Be Neat: Keep your guest room tidy, even if there is household help. Just being there creates extra work. Make your bed daily, hang wet towels on the rack, clean up after yourself and your family in common areas. 
  10. Be Self Sufficient: Avoid relying on your hosts for anything other than a complimentary place to stay. Your hosts are not your personal concierge service, so use ride-share, rent a car, hire a tour guide, and buy your own museum tickets. Research local area activities and pack accordingly. Avoid requesting anything special from your host unless it is absolutely necessary.
  11. Before Departure: Remove the linens from your bed, clear the bathroom of used towels. Ask the host where to place them; unless you already know where the laundry room is located. Double-check for forgotten personal items, including tech chargers.
  12. Text and Handwrite a Note: After texting your immediate thanks; handwrite your hosts a thank you note for their hospitality within 3 days. 

Sharon Schweitzer, J.D., is a diversity and inclusion consultant, cross-cultural trainer, etiquette expert, and the founder of Access to Culture. In addition to her accreditation in intercultural management from the HOFSTEDE Centre, she is an attorney and mediator. Her Amazon #1 Best Selling book in International Business, Access to Asia, won a coveted Kirkus Star, and was named to Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books. She is a winner of numerous awards, including the British Airways International Trade Award at the Greater Austin Business Awards.

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