Encourage Others in Hospitality: Be a Good Dinner Guest

When I think about hospitality, I often consider ways my husband and I can bless others in our home. Which friends can we invite over for fellowship? Are family or friends in need of a place to stay while vacationing in the area? Can we host a baby shower or birthday party for a friend?

Want to support and encourage your friends as they practice hospitality? It’s easy to do by adopting some simple strategies that help you be a good guest.

It recently occurred to me that I can encourage others as they provide hospitality. How? By being a good guest. Here are some simple things I believe we can all do to make sure we’re being good guests.

Being a good dinner guest

  • Offer to bring something. Ask your hostess if she would like you to contribute to the meal. If she says yes, bring your contribution in a ready-to-serve state (it’s okay if you need to reheat it or something similar, but you don’t want to be in the way or delay dinner by trying to complete significant preparations onsite). If she says no, consider bringing a small gift, such as fresh flowers or some sweets. Though etiquette experts may argue with me, I don’t believe that a gift is always necessary—if you and your hosts are close and visit with one another frequently, it may make them feel awkward if you always bring a gift. Use your best judgment!
  • Inform your hostess of any dietary restrictions when you accept the invitation. If someone in your party has dietary restrictions, it’s best to communicate these to your hostess early. Many hostesses are happy to accommodate special dietary needs; however, this may not be an easy thing for your hostess to do, especially if she is working with a limited budget. Be respectful when communicating you or your family’s needs. Personally, I believe it is kind to offer to help by bringing a side dish that is suitable.
  • Arrive on time. It’s best to arrive when you’re expected because arriving early or late can catch the hostess off guard and interfere with meal preparations or serving plans. If something unanticipated comes up and you absolutely have to cancel, do so as early as possible.
  • Silence your cell phone and set it aside. Unless you have a legitimate need to have the volume on your phone turned up (e.g., you’re a physician on call), silence it for the duration of your visit. Few things interrupt conversation like receiving call and text notifications or updating social media accounts.
  • Overlook imperfections. Mushy rice? Hard rolls? A smudge on your plate? Pay these no heed. Focus on fellowshipping and offer genuine complements to your hostess about the aspects of your visit that are great.
  • Have conversation starters in mind. You’ll likely have plenty to talk about if you know your hosts well; however, if you’re just getting to know your hosts you may experience lulls in the conversation. It can be helpful to have icebreaker-type questions in mind to stimulate conversation.
  • Offer to help pick up. Ask your hostess if she would like help clearing the table and washing the dishes. She may decline your offer (I know I generally prefer to complete these tasks once my guests have left). If she declines, respect her preference. If she accepts your offer, cheerfully help in any way you can.
  • Say thank you. Be sure to express your appreciation for dinner before you leave. It’s also nice to send an email or handwritten note expressing your gratitude. This is another time that your relationship with your hosts will dictate your approach—the formality of your thank you will likely depend on the nature of your relationship.
  • Reciprocate. Perpetuate the fellowship by extending an invitation to your hosts to join you at a later date for a meal or activity in your home.

Have you ever given thought to how you can encourage others in their hospitality? What suggestions can you add for being a good dinner guest?

Shared on the following link-ups:

Thriving Thursday, WholeHearted Home, Encourage One Another, Works for Me Wednesday, Titus 2sday, Teach Me Tuesday, Titus 2 Tuesday, & Making Your Home Sing Monday.


  1. Charlotte Thiel says:

    One other suggestion I would offer is that if you are bringing an appetizer or other before-meal tidbit, try to be there early enough for them to be enjoyed without interferring with the planned meal time. We are often guests at our daughter’s house, along with other family guests. Your list comprises many of the infractions we see committed on these occasions. Is there a difference if your fellowship is frequent and comfortable? These problems are still problems, so I think the familiarity is a minor detail, right?

    • I think it’s good to practice common courtesy regardless of the nature of your relationship with your hosts.

  2. Great ideas to keep in mind when invited for dinner! I’m like you I prefer doing the dishes after my guests have left, more time to give them my full attention. : )

    Visiting from the encourage one another link-up.

  3. This is a wonderful post! I think it is important to think about how we can be a good guest. I especially appreciate your reminder to turn off our cell phones AND put them aside. Make your host/hostess know that it is important that you are there and ready to engage. Thank you for sharing these great tips with us.

    • Hi Linda,
      It’s amazing what a difference those little gestures can make, isn’t it?
      Sometimes I surprise myself with how frequently I use my phone for things like checking email, so I needed that reminder.

  4. I don’t think I’ve thought about what the guest can do to help the hostess. You have a great list — I know as a hostess they would be a blessing to me. I’ll have to remember it when I’m a guest.

  5. Good manners always pay off! One more suggestion… Be clear about the inclusion of children in the event and be respectful of that, even if THEIR kids are at the event (where else are their kids going to be if they aren’t home?). I also try to bring something, even if they refuse when I ask ahead of time. It might be something they can enjoy later like a cookie mix in a jar, you know, the layer kind you put in a mason jar. I think there’s a lost art to hosting dinners. People just don’t do it like they used to. (Sharing some comment love back at ya from Thrive at Home LinkUp!)

    • Great point, Kerith! It’s probably best to sort this out early so arrangements can be made for sitters if needed.

  6. You would be a delightful dinner guest!! I’d love to have you stop over sometime.

If this is your first time commenting or if something in your text triggers a spam filter, then your comment will be held for moderation and will not be visible immediately. It will be visible as soon as I am able to approve it. Thanks for joining in the conversation!

Join the Conversation