According to the SCA by-laws:
A Household consists of a group of gentles who have chosen to ally themselves with each other in friendship or towards a mutual goal.
This translates into a very wide variety of households in the SCA. Some are Great Houses and Duchies, with a pyramid descending from a central figure, with households within the house. Some are small, loosely associated bunches of friends who simply like to hang out together and have banded together for camping space, or simply companionship.
I became a part of House Zeebera, my Peer's house, when I began in the SCA. This was even before I became his protege... I knew his family since childhood, and his mother declared I was "one of hers"... so he took me under his wing and made me his responsibility. We have a strong family relationship... Olaf is Harald's son, after all... :)
A number of years later, I began organizing my own House. This was not really intentionally at first... I found myself with a group of people... all fighters... who were unattached to any house. There was not really a Northern Outpost fighting unit, and they had no real tie to the Northern Army. I decided to give them a place to belong, and a group to fight with. I organized... though that is a bit of a strong word... the Wolfhaven Free Company. It did not seem right to me to take on someone's oath... I was relatively new to the game myself, and not really a known fighter, so I decided to treat these fighters as a mercenary group... a free company in my employ. They would fight for me, and by extension the Northern Army... but not have a fealty tie, free to sever their contract if a better fit for them came along. It was not a large group... at it's height, it was maybe 6 or 7 people. We were never really a formidable fighting force... we consisted of largely newer fighters, and did not get to many events together... but I feel that the camaraderie we shared was important.
People moved on, moved away, and left the game... the unit pretty much became nonexistent. I also took my break from the game, around that time. When I got back in, I decided to reorganize the House, and make it more in line with my reevaluated goals in the Society. Dalla and I sought to make the newly reborn House a place for those who shared our goals, and an outlet for those goals to be furthered.
We called it House Wolfhaven, and the principles we dedicated it to were excellence in all we did, integrity first, and service to the Dream. (Yes, those are the Air Force core values. I know a good idea when I see it.) Our loose goal was to make it something like a household that could have existed in period... set up something like a Norse farmstead, with us as heads of house, with our family and hirðmenn (household troops). As such, our members have been people with whom we are fairly close and comfortable with.
We decided that members would be required to work towards a set of standards of appearance…. Clothing and gear of linen wool and silk, appropriate armour and weapons, etc.
We also encourage service in our members... Dalla and I are sworn to a Pelican, and believe that volunteer service is the only way our game functions. Any of our people, and any who camp with us at Pennsic, are expected to put in service time. I have never really enforced this, because... well, because I never had to. :)
We also try to reenforce the fact that this game is our hobby… we are supposed to be doing it for enjoyment.
Our intent was to create a House where people could belong for as long as they needed to. We did not, and do not, expect that we will be anybody's final stop in the game. We expect that many or most will seek out a Peer/student relationship, and so far two have.
Our House started small... our friend Laura joined us, and Gunvar returned to the game and hooked back up with us. Ger joined a bit later, and thus we remained for a bit.
We took Snorri on as a prospective member, and gave him a year to decide. We tasked him with seeking out others in the SCA and finding out what it was that he wanted in the game, what a Household would mean to him, and then after a year, if this was what he wanted. He did so, and joined our merry band. He was followed by Alfrun and then by Arnbjorn.
I mentioned that two of our members have moved on. At Pennsic, Gunvar became friends with some of House Serpentius, and joined their ranks. I happily granted her release from the House... it was a wonderful thing to see her find where she belonged, and I was proud to be there when Darius took her as his squire.
Laura also moved on, and became an apprentice to a cooking Laurel.
We do not actively recruit. We feel that if the House is the right answer for somebody, they will find us. I try to encourage people to get out to events, and really see what is out there before they join a household in the SCA. It is a commitment, and not one that should be taken lightly. As such, our membership remains small. Currently included in our House are Dalla and I, my SCA son Snorri Olafsson, my steward Arnbjorn Grettirson, our freedman Ger, and Alfrun Alfarsdottir. All of these folk are very dear to us, and I only wish we lived closer so we could be together more.
What sorts of Houses do you belong to SCA folks?