* Realize that your hosts have gone out of their way to prepare for your stay. They've washed linens, planned menus, brainstormed activities, purchased food - be grateful. Take notice. Express your appreciation.
* Help with meal prep, dishes, chores. If you see something that needs doing -- jump in and do it. If you think this might make your host uncomfortable, ask first: "Can I load the dishwasher for you? Is there any particular way you like it done?"
* Be flexible and try to acquiesce to the family culture and routine of your hosts. i.e. If they sleep in, try to keep your children quiet in the morning. If they want to take you on their favorite hike - get excited about an adventure! On the flip side, when your opinion/input is solicited - offer it! Indecision can be paralyzing and frustrating. Your host wants to know what you'd like to do, what you want to eat, where you'd like to go, so if you're asked, share your preferences.
* If you have special dietary considerations, let your hosts know ahead of time. Warn them about the life-threatening peanut allergy, but don't mention the less consequential turnip aversion :) And be thankful for what you're served - your host has probably spent a lot of time and energy preparing meals suitable for company.
* If you have a large-ish family or are staying for a substantial length of time, offer to help pay for groceries or take your hosts out for dinner one night.
* Go out of your way to be kind, thoughtful and considerate. My favorite example of this? When our dear friend/cousin Joan stayed with Anne for a few days this summer, her visit happened to coincide with Anne's birthday. Anne had to be to an early morning meeting at church on her special day and while she was away, Joan made her German Pancakes for breakfast and had Blaine and Roger (Anne's boys) color some little b-day love notes for their mom. Does it get sweeter than that?? Guest of the year, Joan! Here's a pic to prove it :)
* When you leave, help clean up. Offer to strip the linens from the bed or start a load of towels in the wash.
* And when you get home, send a thank you note. Better still, send a small thank you gift. When Anne and her family came to visit us in Texas she made me a "Happy Birthday" pennant banner.
We love it! And when I pull it out I smile about the fun we had with them.
Those were just a few ways we came up with
to be a more thoughtful guest in someone else's home.
What else, dear readers?