‘Make yourself at home!’
They may say it, but don't forget – they don't really mean it! What a host means is that they don't want you dying of thirst if you are desperate for a drink, so please help yourself to a cup of tea – oh, and if you’re up and making, offer to do it for others too. What they don't mean is drink all the whisky, annoy the dog so it wees in excitement on the brand new large rug and, most of all, don't bring anyone home with you! This isn’t your home, it’s theirs, so if you tend to treat your home with contempt, hold yourself back when a guest.
What to bring
Flowers, as a starter. Plants can also work, but only if you know that your host likes houseplants. Some people just don't have green fingers and staying somewhere for a week and watching your gift slowly curl up and die can be embarrassing. Don't choose anything with a lot of pollen – loads of people are very allergic to lilies for example, so avoid those. The pollen can also cause nasty stains on neutral rugs under their table. Chocolates are also nice gifts, but make sure they will suit the whole family, so that everyone can share. Don't bring soap or bath items as it will make it look as though you intend to use them yourself!
What not to bring!
Uninvited guests – the boy/girlfriend you met the day before yesterday can keep until another time. Smelly feet – make sure that you are ready for taking your shoes off on arrival. Many people prefer socks to shoes to protect their traditional rugs; don't make them regret it. A shocking cold or other communicable condition – keep it to yourself in your own home; any host will understand if you cancel through illness. And lastly, leave your bad temper at home – a close friend or family member probably knows all your little quirks and loves you anyway, but it costs nothing to be nice!