Culture(s) / Inviting someone over

A1 Breakthrough
In your country and culture, is it common to invite friends over to your house? Are there any customs to be observed before crossing the threshold? Must guests follow them as well? Can you go to your neighbours' or your friends' houses unannounced? Is the front yard separated from the street by a low wall, a fence, a hedge or a gate? In France, Belgium, and Switzerland, residences are often separated from the street by a wall, a gate, or shrubs. Leaving your shoes outside the front door is not customary, and even less so for guests. However, many families have a tendency to take their shoes off as soon as they walk in the door in order to avoid getting their home dirty. The weather does not always incite you to have a conversation outside with your neighbour. People like to invite their neighbours, friends, and family for coffee, or to have an aperitif, or even for a casual or sophisticated dinner. It all depends on their age and their budget! If you don't have enough room, you can invite people out to a restaurant, but restaurants are quite expensive. Some families like to invite people over spontaneously; others would rather make a formal invitation to entertain their friends or family properly. Thus, the meaning of hospitality is flexible. In France and in Belgium you can arrive fifteen minutes later than the time mentioned by the hosts. Guests stay in the living room or the dining room and, depending on how close they are to the hosts, they can sometimes go into the kitchen. You can't have big, noisy parties with your friends if you haven't had the decency to warn your neighbours. In a building, you cannot make any noise after 10 o'clock: no television or radio blaring out, and no loud domestic electrical appliances (washing machine, dishwasher, vacuum cleaner). You can't have a barbecue on your balcony either.