I think most of us know how to be a great host.
We love to freshen up our guest room, lay out the fluffy towels and fun toiletries, make the creative breakfast…and basically pretend to be the bed and breakfast owner.
But do we know how to be a great house guest?
I thought about this question during my week at the shore this summer. Sure we were staying with family, but there is never a reason to slack off when you are staying as a guest.
Here are my guidelines for staying as a guest at a beach house – or any house for that matter!
Bring a gift when you arrive.
It is just a thoughtful gesture and sets the tone for a positive visit. Since we stay with family, I usually bring some kind of baked good or something fun to munch on when everyone arrives.
Make your bed!
Sure this sounds like common sense, but sometimes when staying in a house full of people the messiness of a group can become contagious! Even if you notice the host leaving the bed unmade, just make yours anyway. Believe me, no one will complain! The guestroom we usually sleep in is right off the main living area and it would look horrible to see a messy bed when you walk by. Even if your room is tucked away somewhere, you never know when the host has to get something from a closet or drop off some towels.
Keep your room neat!
Yes, this goes with the make your bed suggestion but really, this is someone else’s house, keep things in order!
Don’t leave your stuff all over the house!
We have a big family and at any given time, there are aunts, cousins, friends etc staying at the beach house at once. That means sunglasses, flip flops, keys, cell phones and towels are everywhere you look! Try to keep your things in your room or in one designated area.
If you are up early, (and if you have young kids, you probably are!), then please stay quiet.
Make yourself useful by emptying the dishwasher or making some coffee.
Blend into the routine.
Sure, the owner of the house probably enjoys having people there but at least try to keep things flowing in the house. If in the late afternoon, everyone is sitting around reading and relaxing, don’t just turn on the TV or start talking on the phone in the middle of everything. Pay attention to the host’s cues.
Don’t help yourself to everything.
If you know you will be drinking ten bottles of Diet Coke, go out and buy your own supply for the fridge. If you use something up, replace it!
Return things you borrowed!
Common sense, right? Well, in New Jersey, adults are required to purchase beach badges to gain access to the beach. Our family keeps a limited number of badges at the house so we are all very careful not to lose them. We are so careful with them that we always announce, (while making sure we have witnesses), “I am returning my beach badge!” as we place them back in the designated box each day. It is very funny because we all do it!
Help out as much as possible.
Most people remember to ask, “Is there anything I can do?”, but instead just do something! Start setting the table, chop some vegetables, run to the store to pick up some extra milk… In our family, we also like to take turns cooking a dinner. I always bring some recipes with me so I can at least whip up a quick appetizer for our late afternoon happy hours on the deck!
Be conscious of the wet bathing suit!
Seriously, no one likes to see a big wet butt mark on their sofa or cushioned chair! Change or sit out on the deck until you are dry!
Remember the sand!
Pay attention to how much sand you have dragged back from the beach. Shake your things off outside, towel down your feet and legs and rinse off as much as possible. It is so annoying to walk around the house in bare feet getting all the sand stuck to you that has dropped off someone else!
Don’t hog the shower!
First of all, you never know when the hot water may run out and second, you need to consider all the other people waiting to get cleaned up. If you need to dry your hair, do it in the bedroom instead of the bathroom. I always bring a little stand up mirror with me so I can sit on the bed and dry my hair. Sometimes I just air dry – hey it’s the beach!
Clean up before going home!
Strip the bed, empty your garbage can, wipe down the bathroom, (we also have to squeegie the shower after each use), sweep or vacuum up any sand, bring the towels to the laundry room (we actually bring our own so we wash them at home) and basically make the place look great! Don’t leave the place looking like a hurricane blew through or you may never be invited back!
Remember to send a thank you!
Flowers or a fruit basket are great ideas, but at the very LEAST send a HANDWRITTEN note! Take the extra few minutes to write out a nice thank you to let them know how much you appreciated your stay.
These “beach house guidelines” may seem like common sense, but believe me, we all could brush up on a few!
I have been a guest at beach houses my whole life so I like to think of myself as an expert. And one day if we ever have our own beach house, I would love it if my guests remembered just a few things from my list!
And remember, no one will complain that you have been too neat, too polite or too helpful!
Are there any guidelines you would add to my list?
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