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Should I look through the house? 20-40-60 Etiquette


QUESTION: I went to visit one of my aunts and she welcomed me at the door and wanted to show me her house. Is it good manners to offer to show your house to someone who didn't ask to see it? It was not a new house. I have also been to a couple of parties where guests toured the home of the people who were hosts. That seemed to me to be a huge breach of etiquette. Is there a rule about house tours?

By Callie Athey, Lillie-Beth Brinkman, Helen Ford Wallace

CALLIE'S ANSWER: Each person is different; some people are very proud to show off their home. Some like to give tours or let people see it for themselves. I wouldn't think too much about it.

LILLIE-BETH'S ANSWER: If the host offers, tour the home if you want to or don't, politely declining by saying something like you don't have much time and would rather visit or that you can't stay at all. If we love where we live or we have recently done some work to our homes, many of us want to show it off, as it reflects who we are as people. If you had never been to her house before, perhaps your aunt was wanting to share with you a piece of herself so you could know her better. I don't think it's rude to offer a tour, nor is it rude to tour a home as a guest at a party as long as you have asked the host if it's OK or if she encourages it. However, I don't think it's good manners to start touring a house on your own without permission or welcome.

HELEN'S ANSWER: That seems to be a common question for first-time visitors to someone's home, particularly if it is a new home. Do you want to see my house? You can always decline the tour.

GUEST'S ANSWER: Christina Nihira, journalist and community volunteer: The purchase of a home is a significant milestone in our lives. It is the realization of the American dream. It validates that perseverance, hard work and resolve can bring great happiness.

In the case of your aunt, she seemed pleased to show you around. Perhaps it was to highlight new physical improvements or fresh decorating.

People enjoy showing off their homes. It may be to celebrate a project's completion. It's common to discuss problems. Think ill-planned space (a kitchen is very popular). Then, there are all the home furnishings plus the paints, wallpaper, carpets, flooring and other details to see. Often a friend's input can bring creative input.

It's the homeowner's decision to give a tour and, most likely, she or he will feel honored. This is a special place that a homeowner is proud to own. Remember, home is where the heart is.

Callie Athey is 20-something, Lillie-Beth Brinkman is in her 40s, and social columnist Helen Ford Wallace is 60-plus. To ask an etiquette question, email helen  -

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Helen Ford Wallace

Helen Ford Wallace is a columnist covering society-related events/news for The Oklahoman. She puts local parties online with daily updates. She creates, maintains and runs a Parties blog which includes web casts. She is an online web editor for... Read more ›

Lillie-Beth Brinkman

Lillie-Beth Brinkman is a Content Marketing Manager for the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce. She was previously an assistant editor of The Oklahoman Read more ›