Culture(s) / Inviting someone over

A1 Breakthrough
Here are some rules to follow when receiving guests.
In your country, in your culture, is it customary to invite friends over? Are there any customs to be respected before entering the house? Do guests have to respect them? Can we go over to our neighbors or friends without being invited? Is there a small wall, a fence, a hedge, a barrier that separates the private space from the street? Do we spend the evening on the street or in the houses?

In France, Belgium and Switzerland, homes are often demarcated from public space by a wall, a barrier or a plant separation. It is not customary for us to leave our shoes in front of the front door of our own home, much less for the guests. However, some families remove their shoes immediately behind the front door to keep their homes clean. We can’t force our guests to take their shoes off, but they can ask if they should or if they may take them off.

The weather does not always allow us to chat with the neighbors outside. We like to invite our neighbors, friends and family to our home for an aperitif, a cup of coffee, an informal or refined dinner. It all depends on age and budget! If we don’t have enough room, we can invite people to the restaurant, but restaurants are quite expensive. The aperitif (otherwise called the apéro) is a drink accompanied by small snacks: peanuts, condiments (olives), small raw vegetables (tomatoes, radishes), salty biscuits, etc. It is traditionally served before the meal. In France and Belgium, you can even invite your colleagues to have an aperitif. We clink glasses and wish each other “Santé !”.

Some families like to receive unannounced guests, others prefer to make a more formal invitation in order to be the perfect host to their friends or family. The sense of hospitality is therefore variable. In France and Belgium, when invited, we can arrive a quarter of an hour after the time announced by the hosts. The guests stay only in the living room or in the dining room, or they may go to the kitchen, depending on their degree of intimacy with their hosts. When invited, it is common to bring a gift, such as flowers (wrapped in a paper), a bottle of wine, a dessert or a box of chocolates. 

We can’t have big parties with friends making a lot of noise without having the courtesy to warn the neighbors. In a building, we can’t make noise after 10 p.m.: have the TV or the radio too loud, use noisy appliances (washing machine, dishwasher, vacuum cleaner). We can’t barbecue on the balcony either.

Practical exercises

Culture(s): Inviting someone over

4 exercises
Look • Intercultural (everyday life / accommodation)