One of the best ways to experience the cultural and individual traditions of the holiday season in the US is to spend it with an American family. If you have been invited to spend Christmas, Hanukkah, etc. with a friend and their family, you may be excited and perhaps a bit apprehensive especially if you’ll be staying with them for several days. To help ease some of the uncertainty and address guest etiquette expectations, we’ll explore some tips and advice around etiquette when going home with friends for the holidays.
To blend in seamlessly, it is always best to inquire about what to bring, whether it be attire for weather considerations or nice clothes for the holiday or holiday party. Come prepared, clothes and toiletries in hand.
If you have dietary restrictions make sure you let them know in advance. This will help avoid any potential awkward situations or refusals around the table. Once you are there, you can inquire as to the nearest store if you need some specific items for yourself. While it’s important to share food restrictions like allergies, keep in mind that if it means they will have to make very inconvenient concessions then you might want to purchase and prepare your own dishes while visiting. If your dietary restriction simply consists of you not liking Brussel sprouts then a simple “no thank you” at the time of offer will be fine.
Go with the flow
Visiting a household means there are established routines when it comes to eating, waking up and going to bed, etc. Be courteous of the family’s schedule and work within it. However, just because you go with the flow doesn’t mean you can’t sometimes do your own thing. It is important to be able to entertain yourself and allow your hosts time for themselves and their own plans. Just be open and if you’d like to go somewhere, let your hosts know of your comings and goings. One important rule of thumb: do not bring guests/friends over unexpectedly.
Offer to help cook dinner, clean up or even walk the dog. Emerge yourself by helping out and being a part of the family. Make sure to tidy up after yourself daily, whether it’s your guest room, the bathroom or your own dishes. You don’t want to create more work for your hosts.
Don’t go empty handed
It’s standard practice to bring a small gift for the family who is hosting you to show your appreciation. If you are uncertain what to bring, ask your friend about his/her family’s likes or interests. One idea is to bring something for everyone to share like a bottle of wine, a box of chocolates. In addition, if the holiday you are going for involves exchanging gifts, again defer to your friend before you arrive. General etiquette is to gift something to the family who is hosting the celebration, like a game for everyone to enjoy.
What tips do you have when it comes to etiquette when going home with friends for the holidays in the USA?