Happy Holidays 10 Hosting NoNos That Drive Your Houseguests Nuts

Dated: 12/18/2017

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Hosting this holiday season? While we all love to complain about houseguest foibles—the friend who cleans out your fridge, the aunt who leaves the lights on all night—did you ever stop to ponder that you, dear host, might be the one annoying your guests?

Believe it or not, many hosts’ “guest-iquette” is less than hospitable. Take note: Here are 10 hosting behaviors that drive your houseguests completely nuts.

1. You gave your guests your crappiest, castoff towels and linens

Don’t just unload your leftover linens and lumpy pillows on your guests. It’s simply not that expensive to outfit your guests with absorbent, unstained towels (and plenty of them!) and decent sheets.

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Really want to impress your guests? Do what Patricia Napier-Fitzpatrick, founder and president of the Etiquette School of New York, does and offer a variety of pillows.

“One of my friends is so attached to her pillow that she actually shipped it to my house when she was visiting,” she says. “That got me thinking, it might be nice to have different styles to choose from, from firm to fluffy.”

2. Your sofa bed sucks

Have you ever slept on your guest bed? You might try it for a night; it would offer some perspective on how comfortable (or not) it actually is, says San Francisco–based etiquette expert Lisa Grotts.

If you don’t have a decent guest bed, there are better options than a pull-out couch with that bar that prods your spine all night long. She recommends using an inflatable mattress, which can be surprisingly comfortable.

Here’s a look at some of the best guest beds available today.

3. The coffeepot looks more complicated than a space shuttle

For an early riser, there’s nothing crueler than not being able to get your caffeine fix.

“Before I go to bed, I get the coffeepot set so the guests can just turn it on if I’m not around when they get up in the morning,” says Rachel Wagner, an etiquette consultant in Bixby, OK.

She also recommends giving a quick kitchen tour the night before so they know where breakfast items are located in the pantry, cabinets, and fridge without a lot of banging around.

4. Your food options don’t fit guests’ dietary restrictions

Sometimes hosts are well-versed on all their guests’ allergies and idiosyncrasies, but a refresher is always in order.

“It’s polite to inquire about special dietary needs or allergies and general likes and dislikes so you can stock the fridge before they arrive,” says Napier-Fitzpatrick.

While you don’t have to go overboard, it’s probably not a good idea to push your to-die-for mac and cheese on your paleo friend. And now’s not the time to get preachy: Don’t force-feed your uncle sprouts and quinoa if he really, really craves meat and potatoes.

Finally, don’t forget to pay special attention if children are part of the package, as a hangry kid is no fun for anyone.

5. Your closets are so full, guests can’t unpack

Yes, the guest room closet is a convenient place for you to stash out-of-season clothes, or stockpile your donations until you head to the drop-off site. But make sure your guests have ample room to store their stuff when they arrive.

Wagner supplies a luggage rack, which not only looks inviting but also helps prevent the guest from soiling a comforter with dirty suitcases. You’ll also want to empty out a couple of drawers and some closet space, and don’t forget to have a few empty hangers available.

6. Your shower has a cheap, almost-empty shampoo bottle

Most travelers today try to avoid checking a bag whenever possible, which means they’re likely traveling light in the liquid department. Give your guests a break by offering them sumptuous, spa-worthy toiletries, as well as other necessities.

Wagner sets up a basket with a note inviting them to use and keep anything they need. She includes unopened hotel shampoos and conditioners, body wash, lotion, small bars of soap, shower caps, and sewing kits, and new disposable razors, toothbrushes, and small tubes of toothpaste. Let them know where extra TP is, too, of course.

7. You planned an evening at the theater, but guests brought only jeans

Some guests assume a visit is going to entail sitting by the fire in PJs, enjoying some mulled wine, and swapping stories. But if your plans include a special dress code, such as a holiday party with festive attire or an evening out at a restaurant where a jacket is required, give them a heads-up, says Napier-Fitzpatrick.

Also clue them in to other activities you might have in mind so they bring outdoor gear for a hike or appropriate clothes for a session at your favorite yoga studio.

8. You exhaust guests by overscheduling

You love your city, and you want to show off every square inch of it. While most guests will appreciate your playing tour guide, make sure to also give them some time to relax—it is their vacation, after all—and even to explore on their own. If you’re a museum buff and their tastes run more toward a jog in the park, it can be a relief to part ways and let everyone indulge in their preferred activity.

“Have some group outings and activities planned, but it isn’t necessary—nor is it necessarily appreciated by your guests—for you to have every minute of the day planned,” Napier-Fitzpatrick says.

9. Guests can’t find your Wi-Fi password, or figure out how to turn on the TV

Gah! The mystery Wi-Fi code! In today’s well-connected world, it’s a must for people to know how to access Wi-Fi, since many guests work even while on vacation. Also leave them a list of TV/cable channels and some instructions on your remote if it’s complex (and trust us, it is).

10. Your home is burning hot or freezing cold

Grotts recalls one hostess announcing that the electric bill was too high so she didn’t like turning on the air conditioner—despite the 108-degree temperature. Please don’t try to save a few bucks on your energy bill at your guests’ expense.

Show your guests where the thermostat is and have a short discussion about appropriate temperatures, or supply them with a small space heater and fan so they can create the sleeping conditions they favor.

Cathie Ericson is a journalist who writes about real estate, finance, and health. She lives in Portland, OR. Follow @CathieEricson
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