How to Be Good Houseguest for the Holidays

When the holidays come, a lot of us head to relatives, or go stay with friends.

So, it's very important to be a good holiday houseguest -- or you might not be invited back next year!

On "The Early Show" Thursday, Southern Living magazine Editor at Large Amy Goodman offered tips to help you stay on the right side of your hosts:

Whether you're a dinner guest or a weekend visitor, the golden rule is never to show up empty-handed.

A gracious guest:

Brings a yummy food item to share-something local is best -- such as 1 lb. of coffee from hometown roaster, baked treats, a bushel of fresh fruit or artisanal cheese.

Spends some time alone; doesn't crowd the hosts-bring a book/and or magazines to entertain yourself, throw in your tennis shoes and go for a big walk by yourself. They're your host, not your entertainer.

Isn't a picky eater, but does pre-alert her host of any food allergies/aversions

Offers to help -cooking, bed making, etc.

Goes with the flow-whether the host wants to play a game of chess, climb a local mountain, or chit chat the night away.

Doesn't stay too long

Follow up with a handwritten thank you note -- no, an e-mail doesn't count!! And a small gift -- flowers, soaps, a coffee table book that is tailored to the host's interests, framed photo from the visit to celebrate the memories of a great visit.

Goodman also answered viewers' questions:

"We are recurring houseguests and stay at this family member's home every time we come to town. I occasionally bring small hostess gifts - what should I do for Christmas?"

Answer: This is the time to go bigger in scale to really show your appreciation for all of their kindness throughout the year. Spend $50 - $100, and since you know them well, if they are into wine get them a gorgeous decanter or interesting wine holder if they like wine, a beautiful set of monogrammed guest hand towels (since you use them so often, and they need to be replaced eventually), a vase if they often have fresh cut flowers.

Bringing wine is a given but a great guest goes beyond and brings their host something tangible and personal - tailored to their needs to show that there was thought and time behind it...that adds to their home and suits their personal style.

"Should I buy my own groceries or offer to buy groceries for a meal now and then? How often?"

Answer: Yes. If you are a weekend guest and the host goes shopping with you, do offer to buy the groceries, do offer to help with the meal, even if the host refuses, a good guest should ask if there is something they can bring...a host might be short of something and doesn't want to put you out by asking so offering is always good.

"I am from England. Strattfordshire. I would like to know what the etiquette is to the time you're supposed to stay when you're visiting someone"

Answer: See rule six, NEVER stay too long. A good houseguest never overstays their welcome. How long is too long? Your hosts may not be on vacation as you are (most have to work while you play), and even though have graciously invited you into their home, they have already rearranged their normal routines on your behalf. Their hospitality also requires their investment of time, energy, and money for extra food and drink, utilities, and other costs. Good houseguests should always confirm the proper amount of staying time with their hosts and stick to that allotted time. If you are coming for the weekend, stay the weekend, not the week.
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