Traits of a good houseguest

David and I have lots of overnight house guests. Some people stay with us for a day or two while others stay longer. Some people come from far away and some come from nearby. Some people stay at our house once, then not again for many years, while others are frequent visitors. Although David and I have lived in one of the world’s top tourist destinations, south Florida, since 1991, we have hosted people in our home when we lived in less desirable areas. (Before I met David, I hosted many people in my various abodes, including some that were the size of my current bedroom! Somehow, everything worked out just fine!) As many people know, I am fond of making lists, rating things, and categorizing most aspects of my life. Thus, in this and my next post, I will list my opinion of good versus not so good house guests. I will not name any names of anyone in the not so good category, lest I offend the sensitivities of anyone. I like to begin with the positives, therefore, this post will be devoted to traits of a good house guest. In no particular order, a good house guest, at least in my home, is:

– someone who likes cats (because I almost always have a feline friend who lives in the house other people are visiting);
– fun to be around;
– someone who, when waking up before me (which is usually the case), is as quiet as a mouse, a very, very quiet mouse;
– a person who doesn’t complain about the loud music that is almost constantly playing from the time I wake up until the time I go to bed;
– a person who doesn’t complain about the food David and I have worked hard to prepare and instead, just picks out the cucumbers or whatever else he/she/they can’t or won’t eat without making us feel like bad people because we served cucumbers;
– someone who asks to help with things being done on his/her/their behalf, such as setting the table for a meal, getting their own beverages (particularly when they drink them fast!), and cleaning up after themselves;
– someone who plans ahead for desired activities, such as bringing a beach towel and sun screen when going to the beach;
– someone who pays his/her own way when we attend concerts, go to an entertainment event that requires admission, or out for a meal (it’s even better when, once in a while, a guest treats David and me to a meal!); and
– someone who checks his/her guest room to be sure everything has been packed and nothing has to be shipped home at a later date.

I truly love the vast majority of my friends and family who have visited us over the years. In fact, hosting overnight guests and having parties are some of the most joyous times in my life. But, there are some guests who stand out because they are easy to entertain, don’t complain, and of course, love cats!

One reason I enjoy having guests is because they give us an excuse to play tour guide and take them to explore some of the fun spots we’ve found while living in south Florida. In that regard, they sometimes give us an excuse to go visit places we have only read about. So, another positive trait of a houseguest is, to me, a sense of adventure. Not that we’re going to do any seriously adventurous things. Our adventures are pretty tame – unless you count walking through the wet, swampy Everglades at Clyde Butcher’s gallery in the Big Cypress Swamp, but, so far, we haven’t taken anyone on that walk. Of course, unless someone is overall compatible, we would be unlikely to invite them to stay anyway. So, generally we expect house guests will be people with whom we share some interests and get along. But, living under one roof can bring forth behaviors that are unexpected. When hosting, I am perfectly happy catering to the guests’ needs to a large degree, but I agree with Melissa that a willingness to pitch is a big plus. Similarly, I don’t want to be in the position of being a waiter, fetching the drinks or snacks, instead, I point out the self service options. And, clean up is important – including recycling beverage cans or bottles appropriately. Once again, having some modicum of self monitoring skills goes a long way in not wearing out one’s welcome. And, those who bring a small gift, as was once more customary, are even more special. Finally, the prize goes to those who are refined enough to send a “bread & butter” note after they return home from their visit.

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