This time of year many of us travel to see friends and families and stay with them over the holidays.

Holiday etiquette is very important and a lot of the time we forget how to be proper house guests.

Here are some tips that will help you be a better guest, not only during the holiday season but year round.

1. Never show up empty handed... EVER. This applies weather you are just coming for dinner or staying a week. You don't have to bring something extravagant or expensive, just enough to show how much you appreciate their hospitality. A couple bottles of wine or a nice breakfast basket is great for people you don't know that well. But if you are staying with someone that you know their personality and what they like, make the gift more personal. A really nice vase with fresh flowers (NOT a pre-made arrangement from the local grocery store) if they like that sort of thing or monogrammed hand towels.

2. Clean up. You are not staying at a hotel with maid service, you are at someone's home. No matter who it is, repect their space. Clean up after yourself, make your bed, keep suitcases tidy and out of the way.  You get the picture.

3. Offer to help out. Most homeowners aren't going to out right ask you to do something.  You need to offer. Do the dishes after a meal, set the table, help cook, offer to go to the store, purchase and or prepare a meal one night.

4. Be independent. Don't expect to have your days planned for you. The homeowner has a life too, maybe they are working part of the time you are there, maybe they have an appointment. Make sure you are prepared to entertain yourself some of the time. As much as they probably love having you there, you don't need to be invading their space all day everyday.

5. Say thank you! Not just to their face (which is also important) but once you leave. Send a thank you card when you get home. Not a text message or an E-mail, an actual hand written card. If you stayed for more than a night it is more than appropriate to send a small gift also, something pertaining to their interests, like a book or a gift card to a local boutique. Let them know how much their hospitality means to you.

Following all of these proper etiquette rules will ensure you are invited back next year.