Etiquette of Visiting.
Some of the social observances pertaining to visiting away from one’s own home, and accepting the hospitalities of friends, are here given, and are applicable to ladies and gentlemen alike.
No one should accept a general invitation for a prolonged visit. “Do come and spend some time with me” may be said with all earnestness and cordiality, but to give the invitation real meaning the date should be definitely fixed and the length of time stated.
A person who pays a visit upon a general invitation need not be surprised if he finds himself as unwelcome as he is unexpected. His friends may be absent from home, or their house may be already full, or they may not have made arrangements for visitors. From these and other causes they may be greatly inconvenienced by an unexpected arrival.
It would be well if people would abstain altogether from this custom of giving general invitations, which really mean nothing, and be scrupulous to invite their desired guests at a stated time and for a given period.
LIMIT OF A PROLONGED VISIT.
If no exact length of time is specified, it is well for visitors to limit a visit to three days or a week, according to the degree of intimacy they may have with the family, or the distance they have come to pay the visit, announcing this limitation soon after arrival, so that the host and the hostess may invite a prolongation of the stay if they desire it, or so that they can make their arrangements in accordance. One never likes to ask of a guest, “How long do you intend to remain?” yet it is often most desirable to know.
Offer your guests the best that you have in the way of food and rooms, and express no regrets, and make no excuses that you have nothing better to give them.
Try to make your guests feel at home; and do this, not by urging them in empty words to do so, but by making their stay as pleasant as possible, at the same time being careful to put out of sight any trifling trouble or inconvenience they may cause you.
Devote as much time as is consistent with other engagements to the amusement and entertainment of your guests.
DUTIES OF THE VISITOR.
On the other hand, the visitor should try to conform as much as possible to the habits of the house which temporarily shelters him. He should never object to the hours at which meals are served, nor should he ever allow the family to be kept waiting on his account.
It is a good rule for a visitor to retire to his own apartment in the morning, or at least seek out some occupation or amusement of his own, without seeming to need the assistance or attention of host or hostess; for it is undeniable that these have certain duties which must be attended to at this portion of the day, in order to leave the balance of the time free for the entertainment of their guests.