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Are You The Good House Guest Or The Nightmare In The House?

???????House guests come in all shapes and sizes, personalities of every type and with a variety of manners from the sublime to the ridiculous. They may be friends, relatives or business associates. They could be invited for their friendship, relationship or out of obligation.

I just had the pleasure of having several guests in my home. They were new friends that I had met at a writers’ retreat in Arizona. I live in Savannah. It’s a beautiful city that 99.9% of the people I meet either want to visit for the first time or make a return trip. I would like to think that these women came to see me, but secretly, I think they wanted a taste of Savannah.

I have written on the topic of being the good house guest before. After this experience, I was compelled to return to the topic just as visitors return to Savannah.  These ladies were the epitome of the ideal house guests.

What did they do that made them stand out and cause me to write about them? Just about everything right and many things that were above and beyond the usual acts of courtesy and consideration.

I’ll list as many as there is time and space for:

  1. They honored my expectation of arrival time.  As someone who works from home and maintains a busy schedule, I appreciated their sensitivity to my time constraints. Getting ready for house guests is not always an easy task unless you have the staff of Downton Abbey.
  2. Since they were traveling by car from a good distance away, they kept me informed of their whereabouts along the way and any changes to arrival time. The Polar Vortex was once again having its way with people’s travel plans.
  3. When I asked about food issues or special needs, they were quick to say that they would bring anything they needed or wanted that was out of the ordinary. Most of our meals were planned out since Savannah has more than its share of wonderful restaurants, but it’s nice to wake up in the morning to your own quirky breakfast food or beverage. They relieved me of the burden of finding their special cereal, coffee or tea. I suppose when I mentioned that I had plenty of those little cereal boxes of Fruit Loops, Cocoa Krispies and “Yucky” Charms (my children’s name for their favorite cereal) left over from my grandchildren’s Christmas visit, they knew  they should bring their own.
  4. When they walked in the door, they were bearing gifts of food, wine and flowers. What an entrance!
  5. While they were here, they were like the Downton Abbey staff. Every time I thought I should wash or rinse a few dishes, I found that magically, it had been taken care of. My dishwasher was on vacation.
  6. When we went out for meals, I rarely had to pay for my own. They had a well-planned and well-executed scheme for grabbing the check. They were generous almost to a fault.
  7. When I stopped to buy gas during one of our outings, these two were out of the car as fast as any pit crew from the Daytona 500 to pump and pay.
  8. Once when I was discovered cleaning out the litter pan, one of them tried to wrestle me for the pooper scooper. Now there’s a thoughtful guest. Talk about above and beyond.
  9. When it came time for them to leave, beds were stripped and used sheets and towels magically appeared in the laundry room. If they had not had to make an early departure for their long haul across country, I am convinced the beds would have been remade with fresh linens.
  10. No sooner had they left when an SUV pulled into my driveway. For one brief moment I thought they had returned. Instead it was someone making a floral delivery. My thoughtful friends had sent a gorgeous arrangement of flowers to keep the memories of our time together alive a little longer.

Does this give you any ideas for what you need to do to be rated as the good house guest? There were many other displays of consideration shown by my guests. This is as much as I can list now.

I would love to hear your thoughts on what makes the good house guest vs. the nightmare in the house from your own experience.

Here’s to your being remembered as the good house guest or perhaps the perfect house guest. You will be welcome anytime!

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Photo from Savannah magazine

Hire Lydia to work with your staff to improve customer service and employee relations through the use of those priceless and often over-looked soft skills called manners. Lydia is the “unstuffy” business etiquette expert who helps individuals and organizations add the polish that builds profits. We’re talking about your bottom line here.

Since 1996, countless people have benefited from her wisdom through keynotes, seminars and conference breakout sessions.  Her Southern charm and sense of humor have made her a sought-after speaker and consultant.

Based in Savannah, Georgia, Lydia is available for national, regional and local speaking and training engagements. She has suitcase; will travel.

Contact her via email at or call 912-604-0080. Sign up for her free monthly newsletter and visit her website,

Lydia Ramsey

Lydia Ramsey is a leading business etiquette and modern manners expert who offers seminars, keynote speeches, webinars and individual coaching. She works with corporations, associations, colleges and universities as well as individuals.

3 thoughts on “Are You The Good House Guest Or The Nightmare In The House?

  • Mary Enright-Olson

    Dear Lydia.
    Very nicely said.
    Every house/home is different. I believe that courtesy and consideration, communication and clarity, are essential to everyone enjoying the time and space shared.
    I admit to having a flaw – I would never wrestle anyone for a pooper scooper.
    Your mantra “It’s not about the rules—it’s about the relationships” set the stage for this wonderful visit.
    May the group gather again.

  • Dear Mary,
    Here’s to the “purr-fect” house guests.
    May we gather again.

  • Wow! With house guests like that, who needs family? Those are some sweet friends you have, Lydia.
    I too just had a house guest for 4 days – a friend of a friend in town for a conference. Very nice gal (from Georgia!), but except for the linens, she did none of the things you listed. Oh well, she’s still young.
    On another note, every time I stay in someone’s home, I can’t help but think about the Guy Endore-Kaiser quote: “What’s the deal with the monogrammed towels? We KNOW they’re your towels.”


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