This week I’m hosting a few unexpected guests at my college house. My housemate who is gone for the summer invited a few of her friends to stay over for a week at our house, and those friends decided they would also host a friend of theirs and one of their girlfriends. I was uninformed until they started moving furniture into my house.

Hi.

That passive-agressive intro besides (I mean, come on: that’s absurd) there is an important upside to this: the four unannounced strangers crashing at my house (told you it’s absurd) are some of the best house guests I could ask for.  With that said I thought I’d share some of the lessons they taught me by example. Feel free to apply this next time you’re crashing at somebody’s place you don’t know quite as well as you should, couch-surfing, or have to deal with your boyfriend or girlfriends’ housemates after a hungover party. All these tips will help smooth over any potentially awkward hosting scenarios where the host isn’t your good friend.

1: Be Friendly

It’s on the guest, sub letter, or crasher to be friendly to the host. This might seem counter-intuitive: after all, it might be your instinct to try to be as inoffensive as you could be and blend in to the furniture. That’s a good instinct, but it isn’t quite right. The host, after all, can close a door and regain privacy at any instant. It’s on you, the guest, to make yourself known as a friendly, normal guy. Make the extra effort and the hosting will be super smooth.

2: Be Grateful

It’s really hard to turn down a request when someone is already thanking you for agreeing to it. Weather it’s a loan or a coach to crash on, the gratitude gives the host a feeling of accomplishment and goodness: “I did you a favor” you think, rather than a feeling of frustration: “This guy is imposing on me.” If you make it about the host and let them feel in control, an extra day or a minor problem won’t annoy them.

3: Do (more) than your share

My house guests  helped me clean up from a party I had. That’s pretty standard, except for the cool part: they weren’t even there. They were out visiting a friend, but when I woke up in the morning, most of the damage was handled. It wasn’t much, but collecting the cans off the tables and floor (as the case may be) is a really cool gesture. It’s a participation thing: if you take a part in whatever bad parts of the house (take out the trash, help with the dishes) than your entitled to the good parts (Beds, whatever’s in the fridge).

4: Ask

Obviously, you can shower. But you may as well ask- maybe the hot water is out, or someone jusssst got back from the gym. Asking stuff reminds the host that you’re grateful and it’s always good when in doubt. Slighting a random host might irk them more than slighting a pal might, but by asking, you can clear up any misunderstanding before they start. Also, by asking, you remind the host, “oh yeah, of course” and that hey, they should be a good host too.

5: Offer

You don’t need to bring a six pack or a nice bottle of wine, but if you do? My oh my. You can surf my couch, anytime, internet guy (offer void for weirdos).