It’s the holiday season, which means there’s a stronger chance than usual that you might be staying at someone else’s home. If that’s the case, you’ll want to brush up on your house guest etiquette, starting with knowing how long is too long to stay.
“Everyone’s dynamics, personalities and capacities are so different so it would really have to be dependent on individual situations,” says Nancy Sokarno, psychologist at online mental health platform Lysn.
“The best way to approach it is to be really honest from the start and try to let guests know what you’re initially thinking, but that that might change. Most people are familiar with that frustrating feeling when it feels like guests might never leave – it’s best to know when they’re planning to leave before they even get there.”
Sokarno also points out that the specific circumstances play a role, too. If the guest is from out of town, it’s not as easy for them to pick up and leave. But if they live just down the road, then there’s less of a reason that they’d need to overstay their welcome.
That said, according to recent study Serta Simmons Bedding’s Sleep Disruptors Survey, which polled 2,000 Americans across generations, 49% of respondents said they believe spending four days or more at someone’s home as a guest over the holidays is too much.
The survey also showed that this etiquette was heard loud and clear by house guests, with 79% of those polled saying their guests stayed four nights or less throughout the holidays.
So, if you’re a house guest over the holidays, what else, other than the staying timeframe, should you keep in mind? According to Sokarno, it’s important house guests bear in mind they’re in someone else’s space and that their presence is going to have an impact on someone – even if they’re not conscious of it.
“Always try to put yourself in someone else’s shoes, but, at the same time, remember that everyone is different – you might love having people around all the time, but, for others, this can become stressful,” says Sokarno.
As for the host, Sokarno says the single most important thing to keep in mind is that people are different.
“You as a host may feel like someone has overstayed a welcome, but remember that guests may actually think that everyone is really enjoying themselves,” she says. “They may not even be aware that their presence is taking a toll on you.”
To avoid having any issues come up during the stay, Sokarno advises the host and house guest to have an open discussion about the duration of the stay at the start, given boundaries are always more effective from the outset and that parties can be more open to adjusting if the situation calls for it.
“For example, a guest might say to the host, ‘We were thinking of staying for three nights — is that going to work for you?’.
“If the answer is yes, the guest can also follow up with a statement along the lines of ‘Let’s aim to check in with each other throughout that time because I understand that things can change, and three nights might start to feel too much. Please know that I won’t be offended if we decide that it might be better only staying two.’”