Tobi’s Tips for Being the Perfect Holiday Guest

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Since the holiday season is just about here and many of us will soon be staying as overnight guests in the homes of our friends and family, I wanted to bring you a few of my favorite tips for being the perfect holiday guest!

So when you head over to stay with those in your life who are so generous to put you up for a few days, here are some things to keep in mind…

Provide your host with your itinerary.  It is polite to let your hosts know when to expect you to arrive and depart and when you will be coming and going.

Because your host is going to a lot of trouble to prepare for your visit, arrive when you said you would. Other than unexpected travel delays that you can’t control, be mindful of your hosts schedule, dinner preparations or other events that a late arrival might interfere with.

(Habitually Chic)

Ask your host if they have plans or events they need to attend while you are there. Be considerate…offer to drive them for shopping excursions or errands so they won’t have to park in busy holiday traffic. If the host will be out for a while, make arrangements to do something on your own so your host won’t feel bad leaving you.

Plan things out of the house so your host can get some time to themselves…movies, shopping or other activities that take at least a couple of hours are a good idea

Plan for your own transportation while you are in town if possible so your host doesn’t have to be your chauffeur.

(Rue Magazine)

Have flowers delivered to your hosts home before you arrive or after you leave.


You’re not at a hotel, clean up after yourself.  If you are staying for a while, even launder your own towels and sheets. Keeping up with a house full of laundry can be a huge job.

Offer to pay for expenses while you are there–if you don’t think they will take the money, stock up on groceries and softdrinks for your host.  If you are staying for an extended period or have a large family traveling with you,  you can send money the week before you arrive to lessen the expenses for your gracious host.

(Rue Magazine)

Their house may look perfectly organized when you arrive but not so much after you leave! Pay for a cleaning lady to get things back in shape. Arrange it with your host’s regular cleaning service. If they don’t have one,  hire a reputable service and send it as a gift certificate so your host can schedule them when convenient.

(Rue Magazine)

Will work for room? Plan ahead with your host and let them know that you are doing the cooking one night or just get up early and cook breakfast one day. Anything that takes stress off your host will make them feel special and glad you are visiting. You can even get out the good china as long as you wash it and put it away after dinner.

Not a great cook? Then pay for a baby sitter for all of the kids one night and take your host out to an adults only dinner.

(Scarlet Bakes)

Bring activities for your kids and the host’s kids…games, crafts, cookie kits….it will keep them busy so your host doesn’t have to figure out how to entertain them. You can even plan for one activity for each day you will be staying.


(Claus Porto)

Bring a hostess gift. It doesn’t have to be expensive to be thoughtful.  A nice bottle of wine, a set of decorative hand soaps, a candle, or a gift certificate for a massage or pedicure are all gifts that are personal and the host will likely enjoy.

And remember, you don’t have to take all of these suggestions on one trip, especially if your budget doesn’t allow.  But be especially attentive to the gestures that are free, like cleaning up after yourself.  It will ensure that you don’t overstay your welcome.

Happy Travels.  And in case you missed them, check out my blog posts on Holiday Travel with Kids and Being the Perfect Holiday Host.

PS. Select photos above are from the new issue of Rue Magazine. Be sure to see all the lovely photos and ideas in gorgeous Volume 2.

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5 Responses to Tobi’s Tips for Being the Perfect Holiday Guest

  1. Pam Kelley says:

    I love to have guest in my home and so I entertain often. I would never let a guest send my money or groceries I would feel bad if they did. Maybe in the case of someone traveling with a lot of children or a guest with special needs in diet etc. I think that would be different. But I do agree with a lot of the other ideas. Either way loved reading the post and the photos were wonderful. Loved the VW Bug piled with presents!!!! Thanks Tobi

  2. quintessence says:

    What a wonderful list of thoughtful tips. I think I may get one of those “I’m not the maid” signs for my boys’ room – forget the guests!

  3. Jess says:

    I think these are great and timely tips but I don’t think the sending money or offering money bit is a good thing, as Martha would say. The host (a gracious one) would never take the money, and neither should a guest offer it. The host should know what they’re getting into when they extend an invitation and the # of ppl that the invitation would bring, i.e., small kids, pets, etc. I agree that an especially generous and thoughtful gift to the host such as the cleaning service you mentioned is a fanntastic idea though!

  4. Tobi says:

    I agree with you all about the offering money with regard to the old-fashioned rules of etiquette. And fortunately, most of us can afford to host our loved ones during this time of year so it is a non-issue. However, in the current state of the economy, hosts are sometimes challenged to meet the expenses of their guests and guests are more than ever asking to stay with friends or family becuase their budget doesn’t allow for staying at a hotel. So I agree, the host will likely not take you up on your offer, but some would out of sheer necessity. You know your friends and family and know whether they would better enjoy a nice gift or if it is money that they need. And I say, rules are made to be broken. So just because Emily Post wouldn’t like the idea of sending money, time spent with loved ones during this time of year, even if everyone is going “dutch treat” is still better than not spending time with each other at all.

  5. Many of these I never considered, but certainly great. Even if one forgets to bring a hostess gift, one should always remember to a least send an old fashion handwritten Thank You note.

    Thanks for posting Tobi.