My roommate and I have a spare room in our flat. It has been spare only in theory the last few months. We seem to have a steady flow of house guests through that small rear room with the round bed and mismatched blankets. We live transient lives in a transient city, and there is almost always someone visiting from out of town or in between housing to occupy our guestroom. After hosting an especially exceptional house guest, I got to thinking about the small things that made me adore or despise the current occupant of that room. There is a big difference between a being a temporary contributing member of the household and an unconscientious freeloader. I have done my best to define and outline the ways to make your hosts adore you.

This post is intended for longer-term houseguests (one week or longer) staying with friends, relatives, or friends of friends. It most likely doesn’t apply if you are crashing on a couch in your friend’s college pad next to dirty pizza boxes. Take my advice as situations arise. You are being put up on the couch or spare room assumingly because your hosts like you, want to help you out, and/or want some fresh life in the house. Help cultivate a reciprocal relationship. Go into your new temporary home with gratitude. On the flip side don’t be afraid to pack up and leave if they expect you to be their maid or plaything. Here are five points to remember when striving to be a perfect houseguest, so every night is a fun slumber party!

1. Clean-
Just pick up after yourself. Keep your area and your belongings organized and neat. If you are sleeping on the couch put away your bedding in the morning. If there are a few dirty dishes in the sink, wash them. Sweep the kitchen. Vacuum the living room. Wipe down the counters. You don’t need to scrub the floors or rearrange the cabinets (that would kind of creep me out), but doing the basics for your hosts will earn you major points. A word of advice – some people have very specific ways to do things, if your hosts are the kind of people who iron their underwear or shine their silverware, then just stick to things you can’t mess up.

2. Respect- Adhere to basic new roommate principles. Tread softly. Keep music low. Ask before you invite anyone over. Don’t cook bacon in a vegan household. Don’t break in your new tap shoes while your hosts are nursing hangovers. Don’t call your boyfriend who’s backpacking in Siberia on the house phone. Be aware of your surroundings and incorporate yourself into them. (And hey, if your hosts want to stay up all night drinking fine tequila with you, then who are you to say no?)

3. Little things- My friend Jen, who I met on my last trip to Costa Rica, recently stayed in our spare room for what was supposed to be a few weeks. It grew into a few months of her staying rent free. Why? because we would come home to a clean house, infact as clean as though it had been cleaned by the trusted hands of people from Maid2Match Canberra and not to forget flowers in the kitchen, and scented candles in the bathroom. It was divine. My friend Chelsea extended her guest stay by baking weekly pies. Any little and nice thing to go above and beyond and let your hosts know how grateful you are will be appreciated. Ideas: pies, flowers, beer, wine, scented candles, fresh baked cookies, dinner, making coffee in the morning. Even just a nice note will go a long way.

4. Replace-
There are certain inexpensive household items that everyone uses and constantly run out. Unless there is a house Mommy who keeps an inventory, it usually falls on whoever uses the last of something or is the first to discover it is out to purchase another. If you realize something is low or out that falls into this category, then just replace it. Examples: toilet paper, paper towels, dish soap, sponges, vacuum bags, coffee, butter, salt, olive oil, or the house caviar supply.

5. Girl Scout Rule- Leave it better than you found it. This rule encompasses all the others. You have been invited into someone else’s home and have a FREE safe warm place to come home to every night and store your belongings. Treat it with love, and believe me, it will be appreciated and you will be welcomed back in the future. You are also setting a precedent for when people come and visit you in your own home! What goes around comes around. ‘Nuff said.

Does anyone have angel or devil house guest or host stories? I want to hear them! Please leave in the comments below.

photos by le regard ailleurs

* post written by Kyra Bramble. To read more of Kyra’s, check out her website.