Even the most polite and positive guests can experience an undeniable foot-in-mouth moment. Protect hosts from unnecessarily hurt feelings (and yourself from unneeded hostility) with this short guide on the phrases and questions to avoid when you’re welcomed to a friend or family member’s home.

1. “This must have been a fortune!”
Maybe it was. But your comment will likely make hosts feel self-conscious about their spending. Keep the conversation around the beauty of the pieces or the clever choices of the host, not the financial commitment.

2. “Let me help tidy up before the rest of the guests arrive.”
Wonderful sentiment; terrible execution. Be wary of the implication that the home needs extra cleaning (and that the host is therefore incompetent.) If you’d truly like to lend a hand, offer a more vague “Is there anything I can do to help?”.

3. “You’ve made so much progress since the last time we were here!”
Unless their home was literally a renovation site the last time you visited, stay away from any compliments that praise the present state of someone’s home at the expense of how it looked in the past. Instead, keep the focus on how great things look now, rather than in comparison.

4. “Your home is so cosy!”
Yes, it can be meant as a compliment. But when it’s presented without context, less-confident hosts might see the comment as a slight against the size of their home. Try pairing it with words that emphasize the positive connotation (warm, comfortable, festive).

5. “Is that homemade?”
We’re talking decor, not food. If the object you’re referring to is store-bought, you’ll make the host worry that their money wasn’t well spent. If it is, you may be implying that their handiwork isn’t polished. If love the item, just compliment it. If it is handmade they’ll tell you and you can praise them, then.

This article by Amy Preiser originally appeared on Elle Decor.


Then you may want to read The 11 Worst Things A Houseguest Can Do and 8 Simple Ways To Create A Welcoming Guest Room

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