Americans often plan social gatherings on short notice, so don't be surprised if you get invited to someone's home or to see a movie or baseball game without much warning. If the time is convenient for you, by all means accept their invitation. But if you are busy, do not be afraid to decline the invitation, perhaps suggesting a time that would be better. Your host will not be insulted.
If a friend has invited you to drop by anytime, it is best to call before visiting to make sure it is convenient for them. Do not stay too long, since you do not want to overstay your welcome.
Invitations are usually issued in person or over the telephone. The main exception is for receptions and other formal occasions, in which case a written invitation will be mailed. You would normally receive a written invitation to a wedding or a bar mitzvah.
For a casual dinner invitation, do not arrive more than 5 minutes early, because your host may still be preparing for your visit. Arriving more than 10 minutes late is considered rude if very few people were invited. If many people were invited, it is ok to arrive a little late, even as much as half an hour late. For example, it is ok to arrive late for a party, for a potluck dinner or for a social gathering involving a large group of people. The main consideration is whether there are enough people in the group so that your late arrival will not be noticed.
At a party, don't be surprised if you are asked what you do for a living. This is a normal opening line of conversation, and not an insult.
If you are invited for dinner, it is appropriate to bring the host a bottle of wine, a gift basket of fruit, a box of candy, or a small potted plant or bouquet of flowers. Do not bring roses, as they have a more intimate connotation; men often give roses to women on a date.
If you wish to thank the host for his or her hospitality, it is appropriate to call or send a brief written thank you note the next day.
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