Greatful Guest: Thank-you etiquette for house guests

by epi on August 31, 2012

Q: What is proper thank-you note etiquette from house guests after they’ve departed and returned to their own homes? Should one expect a thank-you note via snail mail, or are profuse verbal thanks previously rendered in the driveway sufficient? Does the nature of the house guests make any difference (i.e., close family members vs. friends)? Does the duration of their visit make any difference?

A: Overnight visits (of one night or many) require written thank you notes within a day or two of your return home. The only exceptions are when your hosts are relatives or close friends with whom you visit back and forth frequently or whose vacation home you visit often. Even then a call made the next day to say something like, “We’re still talking about what a fun weekend we had with you!” is appreciated and really should be made.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

kathleen ferrigni November 5, 2012 at 9:35 pm

I could not find an exact area to ask my question so I am submitting it here. I send my two adult daughters (19 and 24 years old) on extravagant trips that I do not attend. However, I only think it is polite that they would bring back an inexpensive momento of thanks. I have asked for a post-card from the places I send them because I collect them or a leaf in that I collect them from different areas also. They forget every time and say I am selfish because I expect for them to bring back a momento of appreciation. It is not the object or the price, but I am trying to teach them (unsuccessfully) that it is only polite to give some token of thanks or appreciation when someone does something for someone such as a trip. When I travel, I always bring back souvenirs for my family members. That is the way I was raised, and I am heartbroken that they think a postcard is an unreasonable request. Because of their response, it is only natural that I no longer fund their trips, but they absolutely refuse to believe that anyone would expect a token of appreciation. Can someone either tell me if I am right or wrong. If correct, could someone please write an article on the ettiquette for this type of situation. Thank you. Happy holidays.


Just Laura November 5, 2012 at 10:42 pm

You are funding a trip with the expectation that they bring you a postcard (I too request postcards). They are the selfish ones, who can’t be bothered to spend $1 to make you happy. You need to pay for no more trips in the future. If they wish to travel lavishly, they are adults and may buy their own trips.

If you feel the need to fund others’ trips, please know that I love to travel and I promise to bring back a little something for you.


Joanna November 6, 2012 at 10:30 am

Why exactly are you continuing to fund adult children’s trips? I know parents like to help and all, but it seems they are not appreciative at all, simply taking it as a given. Vacations, much less extravagant ones, are a luxury to which no one is entitled. I’m 32 and can’t imagine having my parents pay for my vacation, or my asking them, for that matter. (They were very generous when I was younger, giving me a chance to experience many lovely vacations. But that was prior to my becoming a self-sufficient adult.)

Also, why are you yourself not on these trips? Perhaps the next time you should go, and if your kids want to come along, have them pay their own share.


Alicia November 6, 2012 at 11:09 am

Wow of course when someone gives you a gift you must write a thank you note. As the gift is a trip and you like postcards a postcard with a thank you note written on it mid trip would be a perfect thing. A memento as a thank you gift for such an amazingly kind gift as a trip would be very appropriate. If you have made it clear that this is the expectation yes then refusing to pay for their next trip is reasonable and very appropriate.


Jane October 20, 2013 at 3:22 pm

Weekend stay question
If you have family members stay for a weekend (2 nights) and they bring a bottle of wine along with contributions towards the dinner and the host serves their own wine is it impolite to take your unopened wine with you when you leave?


Elizabeth October 20, 2013 at 3:49 pm

Yes, it is. The wine is considered to be a gift, like the other contributions, and the host may decide whether to serve the wine or save it for another meal (when it may pair better with the food served). The guests should not attempt to take it back at the end of the night or weekend.


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