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Are you the perfect house guest? Consider these modern-day rules

Smiling woman serving salads to her friends at home

Ground Picture | Shutterstock

Cerith Gardiner - published on 03/13/23

If you respect these guidelines, then you're sure to be invited back to a friend's house.

With living expenses rising at an exponential rate, many people are changing the way they spend their money. Instead of heading out to restaurants, they might prefer to invite friends over for a meal. Yet, sometimes hosts may end up regretting having guests over, especially when they don’t respect some basic rules and manners.

So to make sure you are the perfect guest — we’re sure you are! — take a look at these simple rules to respect when paying a visit to someone else’s home.

Shoes on or off

This point is open to debate. Some hosts want guests to take off their shoes when entering their home. While of course it makes sense to not trudge dirt inside, you might not be overly happy with taking off your shoes to reveal those threadbare socks, or maybe you might be concerned with foot odor.

The best thing to do is assume that shoes will be taken off — so go prepared. If asked to remove outdoor footwear, make sure you’ve got clean socks, or have a comfortable pair of slippers at the ready.

Respect the tech

One of the most annoying things is when you have people over and one of the first things they ask is for your impossible-to-remember WiFi code, or a charger for their smartphone.

It’s always polite to keep any screens away from the dinner table, and your focus should be on your friends and not your phone. However, if you desperately need to use your phone and you need the WiFi code, ask at a time when your hosts aren’t rushed off their feet, or find a tech-whizz child to give you the details.


In France, it is common for people to turn up 15 minutes after the time that’s been given. This is, in fact, considered a polite way to give hosts those extra few minutes to rush around the house and tidy up, or finish getting themselves ready.

However, there are cultural differences in every country. If your host has given you a set time to be there as food is being served right away, then make sure you’re not late. If you are running late, let your hosts know, and if there’s a big crowd, make sure they know that you’re happy for them to go ahead and eat before you arrive.

Don’t go empty handed

Even if your host has said not to bring a thing, never go to someone’s house empty handed. You can bring a dessert, a book, a bottle of wine, a thoughtful prayer card, or a bouquet of flowers (although be aware that if the gathering is large, your host might not appreciate having to stop and put the flowers in water, so you could come with a bunch that’s already in a vase). Just make sure you have something to offer your hosts.

Be prepared to share

There’s nothing worse than going to someone’s home with your own bottle of wine and then not sharing it with others. Well, other than bringing any leftovers from the bottle home with you. If you bring a bottle, be prepared to offer it to others graciously.

Don’t be nosy

When you go to someone’s home you might be curious to see what it looks like. However, don’t arrive and insist on a tour. Your hosts might not have managed to clean the whole house, or they might just like their privacy. Instead, compliment your hosts on their home and leave it that. If they offer a tour, then fine. If they don’t, just remember that curiosity killed the cat!

Be honest

If you’ve accidentally spilled red wine on the carpet, or broken a glass or door handle, or even knocked over a vase, make sure to own up. There’s nothing worse than clearing up after a dinner party and finding ground-in stains, or shards of glass pushed under a table.

Take the hint to depart

One of the issues with hosting a party is when people don’t want to leave. To avoid having your hosts kick you out, look for any signs that it might be time to go. This can be a host’s exaggerated yawns, or a sudden burst of energy to get things cleaned up. They might also just say that they have to be up in the morning. Whatever the hint, take it graciously, say your thank yous, and head home.

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