Being a Good Guest: American Etiquette

If you’re traveling or studying in the U.S., you might be invited to stay at an American friend’s house.
American USA English etiquette manners habits traditions dinner guest eat table evening English ESL grammar idiom   Or, you might be invited to share a meal with an American family.

What is the etiquette?

What should you do to be polite?

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  • First, always bring a little gift.
    • To a dinner or a party, you can bring something to drink or a dessert or snack to share.
    • As a house-guest, you can bring a small gift like a scented candle, fancy soap, a potted plant.American USA English etiquette manners habits traditions flower bouquet arrangement gift English ESL grammar idiom
  • Second, don’t show up early or stay too late.
    • If you are invited to a dinner party at 7:00, arrive at 7:00.
    • If you are invited to a party, it is OK to come up to 30 minutes after the start time. Later than that is rude.
    • If you are invited to spend the weekend, don’t stay longer.
    • If you are invited to a party, look for signs that your host is getting tired or bored. If other guests are leaving, leave with them.
  • Third, offer to help. 
    • You can set or clear the table.
    • You can chop vegetables.
    • You can wash dishes.

 

Your host might say “No, Thank You,” but it is nice to offer. Offer more than once.

  • Fourth, make conversation. Be careful both to ask and to listen.
    • Ask questions (but not too personal).
    • Answer questions (but don’t give too much information).
  • Fifth, as a house guest, be independent.
    • If you are staying at someone’s house for a couple of days, don’t expect them to be your tour guide. Do your own research. Make your own plans. Be adventurous.

Finally, have fun! 

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