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Part 3: How to be the Perfect Host – Minding your Manners

“Being a host comes with a lot of responsibility,” notes Ann Marie Sabath, owner of At Ease Inc., a national etiquette consulting firm. To help an overnight stay go smoothly, she’s opened up with tips for minding your manners as a host.



Map Out the Visit. Discuss arrival and departure dates, food preferences and major activities before guests arrive.

Welcome Guests with Food. Drinks and light appetizers are a must, especially if guests have driven a long way.

Show Them the Ropes. Let guests know where everything is, how things work and all they need to know about staying in your home.

Be Sure to Give Your Guests Privacy. Always knock before entering the guest room. Consider providing a privacy screen if guests are bunking in the family or living room.

Create an Open-Door Policy. Show your guests where you hide the key, so they can come and go when they please.

Let Them Surf on Your Turf. Show guests how to log on to your computer and access the Internet.

Give Your Neighbors a Heads Up. Let them know you’ll have guests, so they won’t be alarmed by unfamiliar cars and extra activity.


Graciousness is as important for guests as it is for hosts. Jennifer Dunham Luby, an Entertaining Consultant with Chicago’s Second City Soirée in Chicago, offers these etiquette tips:


Communicate. Tell your hosts ahead of time about any special needs or allergies, and offer to accommodate yourself. If the host offers to accommodate you, let them.

Arrival. Be on time or a little late, but not early.

Bring Something. Luby recommends an edible or perishable gift (chocolate, flowers, wine) rather than a vase or other object that creates clutter.

Engage. Join in activities the host suggests, but plan some of your own, too.

Chip In. Make your bed in the morning, clear your dishes after meals and help prepare meals unless instructed otherwise.

Turn In. Don’t feel obliged to sit up. If you’re tired, excuse yourself and go to bed.

Departure. Leave on schedule and leave your room cleaner than you found it. If you broke something, fess up and make arrangements for repairs or replacements.

Say Thank You. Follow up with a thank-you call and a handwritten note. After longer visits, say two or three days, send a gift after you leave.


For more hosting tips, check out these related articles:

Part I How to be the Perfect Host – Home Preparation

Part II How to be the Perfect Host – Sleeping Arrangements


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