Know your limits: Be a good guest


1st Jan 2015 Life

Know your limits: Be a good guest

Do you always wake up wondering if you made a bad impression on last night's hosts? Or perhaps you are not sure how to behave at a dinner party? Take a leaf out of Prince Harry's book... 'Modern Manners' author Thomas Blaikie explains why Prince Harry is the perfect guest.


How to be the perfect house guest

Follow in Prince Harry's Footsteps and participate:

“You can’t sit there with a stiff upper lip and not get involved,”

Prince Harry said after his tour of the Caribbean in 2012. And he’s right—joining in is what being a good guest is all about, says Thomas Blaikie, author of Blaikie’s Guide to Modern Manners and columnist at The Lady. But there’s more to it than half-heartedly asking if there’s anything you can do. Etiquette is all about responding to a situation, says Blaikie, and only you can judge if it’s better to get the taps or the conversation flowing. That’s difficult if you’re a house guest.

A messy guest should know their limits

“You may be on holiday but it’s not a hotel, so don’t leave the room in a mess as if you expect maids to appear,” says Blaikie. But don’t overdo it: washing up is fine, but washing the floor could be seen as a comment on your host’s hygiene. Bed linen is also tricky—should you strip the bed or make it before you leave? Best to ask the host, especially if you’ve only stayed one night.

Informality doesn’t mean that anything goes 

Monopolising the host’s Wi-Fi or bathroom is bound to irritate, so ask if it’s OK. “And texting to say you’re running late isn’t the same as being punctual (within 15 minutes of the stated time),” says Blaikie.

Saying thanks is non-negotiable 

Even an email will do. Letting your host know that their time and effort was appriciated will not only make them feel good, but will leave a lasting impression.

Eat what’s put in front of you

If you are fussy or on a restricted diet, offer to bring your own food.

And don’t forget a gift 

“You’ll rarely go wrong with a bottle of good wine,” says Blaikie—as long as you don’t ask to drink it.

Etiquette goes hand in hand with networking and making a good first impression, follow the advice of our experts and you will be sure to excel in every social situation.