{take me away № 08 | holiday etiquette}



{hosting & being a house guest }

At many points throughout the year, we may welcome guests to stay in our homes as well as be guests in others’ homes, but particularly so with the holidays just around the corner.


And whether you will be living with friends or family during such time, it is always lovely to be both a generous and welcoming host, as well as a considerate guest.


For this week’s {take me away}, we shall explore different tips and ideas on how to be gracious in both circumstances . . .

[click below to read sarah‘s thoughtful tips for being a welcoming hostess, as well as a gracious guest this holiday season] x


{having guests stay}

Look ahead to what your guests’ needs may be, including any food allergies, special dietary needs, comfort levels, etc. You may also inquire as to if they have planned any activities, purchased tickets for events, and so on, to learn more about their plans beforehand.


h e l p f u l • i d e a s :

01 | Look around : Be mindful of your home before guests arrive. Certainly, this is not to say that you should stow away all of your belongings, but you must be a considerate hostess — tuck personal mail away in a drawer, or anything that you would not want to openly discuss.


02 | Clean : Welcome those who will stay with a spotless and freshly scented home. As for the guest room, clean, fresh bedding and an orderly space is a must.



03 | Personal care : Be sure to make available: two or three large towels, two or three face cloths, a towel for drying hands, extra tissues and bathroom tissue. You may wish to set these on a shelf in the bathroom, have them in a basket, or stacked and tied with string/ribbon in the bedroom; it is also a good idea to inquire if your guest requires a hair dryer as well. Lastly, offer travel-size skincare in the powder room, as a special touch of hospitality; additionally, it is always a nice idea to provide a full-length mirror.


04 | Time : Having a clock and/or alarm clock for guests is essential.


05 | Flowers : Fresh flowers are a lovely welcome to the guestroom — the bouquet needn’t be elaborate — a small selection of lush blooms in a vase is always beautiful.


06 | In-room food/beverages : You may wish to prepare a small basket or tray of treats for your guests to enjoy, which may include cookies, chocolates, and/or other snacks. Also, a carafe with water and a few glasses close by is essential.


07 | Meals : Do invite your guests to join you with every meal, especially dinner, unless you are unable to do so due to work or prior engagements. Let your guests know if you have plans of any sort, offering them dinner in your absence. Also, if you wish, you may show them to your pantry and refrigerator, in case they wish to help themselves.


07 | Reading : Considering your guests, you may offer two or three magazines and/or a few newspapers that may be of interest. Books are definitely trickier to select for another, but if you know your guests very well, a shorter book that is easy to read, or a book as a gift is always wonderful. If their evening routine includes reading before settling in, a nightlight or adequate lamp next to the bed is a thoughtful gesture.


08 | Storage : Be certain there is adequate closet and drawer space so that your guests may unpack their things.


Generally five to ten hangers within the closet is ideal, (dependant on how many will stay with you), with some suitable for bottoms, tops and dresses. A designated area for luggage is necessary, and be certain to also ask your guests if they will require an iron or garment steamer.


09 | Seating : Your guest space should offer a lounging chair, settee, or chaise lounge to add comfort to the space, and allow your guests to relax — a place to read, write, or rest.


10 | Bed : As with a hotel, offer your guests four pillows on their bed. Some hotels will offer a variety of two more firm pillows and two softer pillows, for comfort. Bedding should be either cotton or linen, as most find these materials best. Depending on the time of year, an extra top blanket is practical for warmth.


11 | Tabletop : If possible, have a small desk or table within the guest room. Note cards and/or paper (and even postcards), with pens are always great to have available. You may wish to detail different schedules or activities that may be of interest, and leave a print out on the desk. To finish, a candle or two and matches is lovely.


12 | Entertainment : If there is a television or computer readily available for your guests, it is important to give them a run through on how to operate everything. You may wish to leave videos for them to watch as well, particularly if you have a prior engagement in the evening.


{being a guest}

Be mindful of your host and their life as you enter their home as a guest. Melding into their schedule and the culture of their home is a must. Your host will try to make you feel comfortable and at ease, and you should do the same by offering to assist whenever possible.


h e l p f u l i d e a s :

01 | Beforehand : Be sure to let your host know what date and time that he/she might expect you to arrive. It is also kind to let them know how many pieces of luggage you will be bringing along, so that your host may prepare the space.


02 | Helping Hand : offer to assist the host with dishes whenever possible. Be sure to thank them for every effort that they have made on your behalf. If they have a dog, you may even offer to walk the dog, with a chance to explore.


03 | Belongings : It is important to keep the space that you will be occupying clean and tidy while you are staying.

04 | Schedule : You might be on vacation at the time, but your host may not. With his/her regular schedule to keep in order, you must create your own, within consideration of meals to take with your host. Scheduling for yourself relieves pressure from your host, as they may feel that they must keep you entertained.


05 | Meals : While you are staying at someone else’s home, it is important to help, but also not to offend your host. You needn’t purchase necessities for his/her kitchen, but offer superfluous delights instead, as a gesture — for example, a lovely dessert from the local bakery would be perfect. If your host enjoys cooking, offer to do the dishes afterwards, and perhaps prepare one meal while you are there. Do not take over the kitchen by any means. Treat your host out to dinner at least once during your stay to give them a break and to enjoy their company.



06 | Laundry : Unless your host offers that you may use their facilities, do not request. If you have something that requires care, you may always look up the nearest drycleaner.


07 | Activities : Your host may or may not want to join you in some activities, be it the theatre or a museum visit. Perhaps discussing a schedule of what you have planned, with an open invitation, is best. You may also ask if your host has any recommendations, thus offering him or her to go along with you.


08 | Departure : Before departing, assure that you have left everything as you found it — attention and such manners are vital. A thank you note or small gift left within your room, or sent to your host shortly after your departure is a must, and the best way to express how greatly you appreciate their hospitality!



{images: one // two // three – sunday suppers via the {this is glamorous} tumblr // four // five // six – scan by {this is glamorous}, photography by miki duisterhof for house beautiful december/january 2011 // seven // eight // nine // ten // eleven // twelve – sunday suppers via the {this is glamorous} tumblr // thirteen // fourteen – cup magazine // fifteen // sixteen // seventeen // eighteen // nineteen // twenty // twenty-one // twenty-two // twenty-three // twenty-four // twenty-five // twenty-six // twenty-seven // twenty-eight // twenty-nine – iphone photography by roséline, from rachel ashwell‘s latest book // thirty // thirty-one // thirty-two}

Sarah Klassen
Contributor, Vancouver

Even as a girl, Sarah spent hours curled up in her home library, exploring enchanting tales, lands to be discovered and explored, intriguing stories, and timeless beauty. What resulted is a lifelong passion for love and authenticity, delightful simplicity and beautiful moments. Educated in design, marketing and English, Sarah’s keen eye and aesthetic allow her to immerse beauty and heartfelt passion into both her personal and professional projects.

22 Notes
  • whereeeee is that gold shirt from??

  • I love the pointers and images, what a great post! Very wise indeed!

    :) Hazel

  • Being in the hotel/hospitality design industry, I would say you “nailed” this post. It’s full of everything I have been trained to pay attention to (not to mention how I’ve been raised by my family). I get lots of joy knowing my house guests feel comfortable in our home. In our guest bathroom, I have a complimentary basket of goodies for guests that include various lotions, shampoos, conditioners, body sprays, Q-tips, hair products, soaps, a silk nightmask, shower cap, safety pins, and lots of other things they may need during their stay! Good hospitality (like good manners) is a must and a skill everyone should learn! Thanks for sharing;-)

  • I love the pictures you’ve managed to source with every note. Lovely as always!

  • Delightful post, I’m actually quite surprised with myself as I was able to tick most boxes when I read the Etiquette tips, I thought I was quite useless as a hostess but my Mother must have taught me well! Thanks ladies.

  • Great tips. I sometimes find it easier to be a hostess then I do being a guest. I never like to stay at other people’s homes. It is very stressful because I want to be considerate and don’t want to offend. I never know what to do. These tips definitely give me a better handle.

  • This made me want to entertain! I hope to one day offer a lovely guest room like these to friends and family!

  • to some being considerate is natural, to others it is not – this is a wonderful post to help us in either situation. I find being a guest in someone’s home a little unnerving, probably because I never know what their expectations are – what a great idea to discuss a bit ahead of time so you can be more relaxed when you get there – but I love having guests in my home where I can relax and want them to as well :)

  • Such an amazing and delightful post.
    Thank you for sharing.
    Hope everyone could think/treat like that.

    Kisses from Barcelona.


  • dumwit tellher — so lovely to hear! yes, sarah really outdid herself with this week’s column — so thoughtfully constructed and yes, so very thorough! happy you enjoyed, and thank you, also, re: photos — a wonderful week to you as well x

  • Wonderful tips to make any guest feel welcome and also for one to know how to be the type of guest who doesn’t wear out their welcome. Thanks!

  • what gorgeous images and a lovely posts!! These tips were truly fabulous and I will certainly keep them in mind when my next guest comes to stay! xx

  • Great tips and stunning images! We all need help in this department.

  • Stunning images and excellent advice.

  • Wonderful post! I love the idea about leaving post cards for your guests! My good friend once attached some beautiful little broaches that she found at a vintage store to a rolled up towel for me. Such a nice surprise and so thoughtful! I also love buying a guide book and map to give to my guests so they can explore on their own.

  • Packed with information! Thanks.. Traveling or having guests are two things that really get me stressed, no matter how much I try no to (maybe I try too hard?) Anyway, I’m having this list on my mind from now on!

  • That silver bed made me think of Görvälns Slott (castel) .We’re going there to have a traditional christmas-smorgasbord on Dec 9th and then we’re spending the night.
    Each room is different but one of the rooms is silver

    Check it out I’m sure you’ll get inspired

  • beautiful and important suggestions to be a guest and a hostess! I see both are equally important… I will keep this in mind for my next guest… as always, beautiful images just make the read go naturally and pleasurable.

  • I love this post! I’ve stayed at so many homes where the hosts have been truly delightful – piles of magazines beside the bed, a jug of water on the side table, even cups of tea on silver breakfast trays outside the bedroom door in the morning. One gorgeous host, Jane Coslick, even provided a bike for me to ride around Tybee Island on! And so now I try to be just as gracious when my guests come to stay. And thank you notes (or emails) are SO important. I remember reading that a group of celebrities had stayed at Valentino’s chateau one weekend and Gwyneth Paltrow was the only one to send a note of thanks the next day. Another lovely post from an inspiring site!
    Janelle McCulloch

  • Oohh! How absolutely lovely! I’ll promise to be the perfect guest and on my very best behavior if someone would invite me to stay at a place like this!

  • One of most thorough and wise posts I’ve read yet on the art of being a fine host and guest. You manage to always choose the most gorgeous photography as well. Thank you Roséline.

    Have a wonderful week xx

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