Etiquette expert dishes on dos and don’ts of being a polite houseguest

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If you want to have class — there are lessons for that.

Ever wonder how to properly present yourself when stopping by a friend’s home? Etiquette expert William Hanson has got you covered.

The specialist shared his top tips for having good manners with The Sun recently.

Hanson first suggested that one should enter someone’s home on time, but not on the exact dot.

“If we’ve said, come over for coffee at 11 am, that doesn’t mean that the moment the clock strikes 11 am to knock on the door,” he said.

“The traditional etiquette was that you were five to ten minutes late, and that is still considered on time,” he continued. “You are not too eager, you’re allowing your host to have an extra five minutes to collect their thoughts and prepare.”

When it comes to dinner, he advises people to come 10 to 15 minutes later. However, if it’s just a quick chat with a cup of coffee or tea, coming five minutes after the agreed time is perfectly acceptable.

One also shouldn’t be early for a stopover, as it could make the host rush and won’t give them ample time to prepare for your arrival.

William Hanson
Etiquette expert William Hanson has a few rules that people should follow if they want to make a good impression.
Ken McKay/ITV/Shutterstock

He disclosed that people should just take a walk, sit in their car or scroll TikTok in order to pass the minutes before heading up to ring the doorbell.

His next rule states that when your host prepares a beverage for you, then you should offer to help clean up after the visit has concluded.

If the homeowner says no, then they mean NO!

“If your host picks up [their cup] and moves to the kitchen, then do the same, but it depends on the relationship you have with the person,” Hanson explained.

“Some hosts will want to wait on their guests hand and foot. They won’t want the guest to be the staff,” he added.

Always take off your shoes when entering one’s residence.
Getty Images/iStockphoto

Another guideline that folks should follow, is to never refuse hospitality from the host.

If they offer food or a drink, it is polite to accept it with a smile. “Even if you drink half of it, just accept something. It’s quite rude to say no. And in some cultures it’s incredibly rude,” he warned.

He then revealed that a guest should acknowledge everyone who is present at the residence — whether it be children or even pets.

He noted: “You don’t have to have them on your lap — and that goes for children and pets — but a little stroke, a ‘Hi, how are you?’ is the bare minimum. It shows that you think you’re incredibly grand if you ignore a pet or family member in the home.” 

One should also make sure to take off their shoes when entering a house so they don’t dirty up the floors.

Never open someone else’s fridge when visiting a friend’s home — no matter how hungry you are!
Getty Images/iStockphoto

In addition, Hanson urged the company to “return the favor” and invite the person of the address over to their own home at a later date.

“A bit like a tennis match, it’s a nice back and forth. It keeps it exciting to not always go to the same person’s house,” he joked.

One major snafu that Hanson cautions against, is that guests should never open someone else’s fridge. The “bold move” is “not acceptable” even if you’re best friends with the owner.

Another rule is that one shouldn’t ever ask for a tour of their friend’s abode unless they offer to give one.

Guests should always greet pets and children when stopping by a pal’s house.
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Then Hanson pointed out that people shouldn’t read greetings cards out loud in front of the present-giver unless they say it’s OK.

He said: “It’s fair game to read the front of a card because they’re on display. But picking them up and reading the message inside — no.”

Lastly, Hanson made it clear that when one is at one’s home, he or she shouldn’t propose to leave the event for an alternative plan because it’s “rude.”

He stated that the host is always “in charge” and “if they’re looking for suggestions, fine.”

“But the host is in charge of the entire day, so don’t suggest other venues,” he said.

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