While you are here, we hope that you will meet and spend time with Americans and their families. These suggestions may help you feel more comfortable when you are invited out.
The invitation is usually for you alone unless your host specifically invites your family or friends. Bringing guests of your own without asking your host's permission is considered impolite. If you receive a written invitation, it will include the date, time, place, and description of the occasion. You should always answer a written invitation, especially if it says R.S.V.P. You may respond by telephone or by letter; prompt notice is appreciated. Never accept an invitation unless you really plan to go. If you must decline an invitation, it is enough to say, "Thank you for the invitation, but I am unable to attend." If an unavoidable problem makes it necessary for you to change plans, be certain to tell the host as soon as possible before the time when you are expected. Make sure you get directions to the place where the event will be held.
When accepting an invitation for a meal, be sure to explain to your host if there is anything you are not supposed to eat. This courtesy will help the host to plan for food and beverages that everyone can enjoy. If you must refuse something after it has been prepared, refuse politely. Never hesitate to ask for any food on the table ("Would you please pass the rolls?") since asking for more food is considered to be a compliment to the host. Being on time is very important in American culture.
Americans put a great deal of emphasis on personal cleanliness. The standard of personal cleanliness that a person maintains determines (to a large extent) how he or she is accepted in society. Most Americans are very sensitive to the smells and odors of the human body - sometimes their own, but especially someone else's. For this reason, most Americans bathe once a day and sometimes more during hot weather or after strenuous exercise. They use deodorants and antiperspirants. They wash their clothes frequently. Most Americans are also very concerned about having clean hair and fresh breath.