|Before travel by plane, or even "visiting" over long telephone calls, being asked to "come for a visit" often meant a 2 or 3 month stay in someone's home. Good etiquette was a must for guests and hosts alike!|
The Proper Way to Behave as Guest or Host
Many of us who pride ourselves on our good breeding are singularly blind as to what is due to friends who are visiting people unknown to us, or who are entertaining guests whom we have never met. Nor are we more assured as to some of the points of etiquette toward our own guests, and to our own hosts when we make an occasional flitting from home.
It is useless to decry etiquette by saying that the best manners in all cases are those which hurt no one. This is true as a general law, but there always are some points which leave no room for experiments as to what will hurt another, and which yet may be settled once for all by a few rules. If you have an acquaintance who is entertaining friends whom she wishes you to meet, it is your duty to call promptly, and if possible offer some hospitality to both guests and hosts. If the position is reversed, and your friend is visiting people unknown to you, never go to see your friend without leaving a card for the hostess.
If you give any entertainment for the friend, be very sure to invite her hosts also. It does not follow that your invitation will be accepted, but if it is, the hostess must be treated as the guest of honor and shown every deference. If, for instance, the entertainment is a luncheon for young ladies, she may be asked to take the seat at the end of the table opposite to your own. If the mutual friend is your guest you may be sure that, if she is a woman of good breeding, she in turn will accept no invitation which does not include you, although you may think best to decline it and insist upon not going alone.
Nor will she receive visitors without asking you to join them in the parlor—should her friends be rude enough to have sent you no cards. Here, too, you may excuse yourself, and at most join them with such delay as to give them a short interview alone. These same rules should hold good for you when you are the guest.
Before you go to make the visit, send word to your friends where and with whom you are to stay so that there may be no idea that you are in a boarding-house, and therefore mistress of your time and surroundings. This constant deference to your hostess should lead you to order all letters and packages to be addressed to her care.
As to the disposal of your time when you are visiting, no etiquette requires you to accept all the plans of your hostess if you feel unable to do so; but care is needed to show that refusal means lack of strength, not lack of interest and inclination. With a little tact on both sides you will have many hours for your own.
Indeed, a skillful hostess will manage to secure you this privilege, and not make the mistake of working too hard to amuse you and so absorb every moment of your visit into her idea of what is pleasure for you. No greater compliment is possible than the quiet acceptance of your preference in the intimacy of family life. —Youth's Companion, 1891
Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J. Graber, is the Site Moderator and Editor for Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia