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Being a Good Guest

In the United States, if you are invited to someone’s home in advance for a dinner or meal, make an effort to be extra courteous by accepting or declining the invitation with plenty of time to spare. Arrange to arrive on time, neither early nor late. If, when you arrive, the hosts are still setting up the table, offer to help, and offer to help clear the table later on. Make a real effort to engage in conversation with the other guests, avoiding controversial conversational topics of course. If in doubt as to when to leave, wait for the first signs that the party is breaking up.

If you are invited to stay in someone’s home overnight or for a few days, make sure you understand in advance how long you will be staying. Be on time. Take your hosts out to a restaurant for dinner at least once, or offer to contribute when food shopping. Keep the area you are staying in neat and orderly. Make sure you are available for meals when your hosts are; adapt to their schedule for most major activities, including bed and waking times. Offer to help with a few household or outdoor chores. If possible, leave the house occasionally to entertain yourself and to give your hosts time away from you, if only for a walk. Bring a small gift when you arrive, and send a thank you note after your stay.

Do not overstay your welcome. It is best to arrange a short stay in the first place, no more than a few days. If the length of your stay is open-ended, leave earlier rather than later.

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