How to express appreciation in the USA

Do you want your host family to adore you? Then this post is for you!

Imagine that your host family is like a beautiful plant. In the USA,  appreciation is like sunshine and water. It will make your host family’s good feelings grow. But wait!

  • It’s not enough to just feel grateful.
  • And it’s not enough to just say, “thank you”.

hands clasped around a small potted plant

Americans have a special “gratitude culture”. If you want to make your host family very happy with you, you need to learn – and practice – expressing appreciation the American way.


So, keep reading to discover how to we express our gratitude in this country. Then try these techniques with your host family and watch good things grow. Your host family will love your skills - and they will love you too!

Thanks: ways to say it in the USA

It’s good to say thank you in the USA, but it’s not enough to just say those two words. Americans love to say thanks in many different ways. If your host dad cooks dinner, for example, you could say thank you, but you could also say:

  • "I love it when you cook. It makes me so happy!"
  • "It means a lot to me when you make a meal. You're the best!"

These are even better ways to express gratitude and show your appreciation. They are more meaningful to Americans. Your host dad will be "over the moon". So, now it's your turn. How can you use the following phrases with your host family?

cartoon illustrating ways to say thank you in the USA

But how can you complete the phrases above?

Think of things your host family does that you are thankful for. Be very specific. Make a list. Then check out the video below for examples and ideas that you can use to express appreciation today!

Your host family needs to hear your appreciation loud and clear, every day, in many ways. Here are more tips:

  • Be sure to say exactly what you are grateful for: a nice dinner, a home to live in, transportation to a football game, permission to meet up with friends (yes, you should say thank you for that).
  • Look for nice things your host family is doing. Then be brave: tell them what you like and how it makes you feel.

You might also notice how Americans say nice things to each other as a way to express appreciation. This is part of our culture. We like to give compliments to our friends, family - and sometimes even strangers - to show our appreciation.

cartoon illustrating ways to give compliments in the USA to show appreciation

So now you have more ways to say thank you and show your appreciation to your host family and others in the USA.

Question: Will you feel silly or uncomfortable saying these things to your host mom and dad and siblings? Maybe at first, but that’s just part of culture shock. Keep practicing and soon you’ll be a pro.

And then, just watch your family’s love for you grow!

Thanks: ways to write it in the USA

If you really want to fit in to your new American life, then you need to learn how to write thank you notes and cards. In this USA, this is very important and meaningful.

a thank you card on a desk in front of a bulletin board

Once again, you might feel silly at first, but your host family will be thrilled. Thank you notes and cards are beautiful gifts they will cherish.


How do you write a thank you note?

It’s so easy! Just grab a piece of paper or a sticky note and write a kind, thoughtful message to thank someone for something. For example:

Thank you notes on sticky post-its

Then, give that note to the person you are grateful to, or leave it in a special place. How about the steering wheel of mom’s car? How about on dad’s computer? What about posting a note on the refrigerator every day? And on the bathroom mirror?

What about thank you cards?

The first step is to choose a nice thank you card. You can shop for cards at your local supermarket or drugstore. They are everywhere. Part of the fun is finding just the right message for the person you wish to thank.

thank you cards in a rack at Rite-Aid

What should you write inside?

Next, you need to write a nice message. This is similar to a thank you note, but your message can be longer if you wish. For example:

example of how to write a thank you card

Does this sound difficult? Ask your local coordinator for advice. Make a list of things you are grateful for and then ask for help writing your message.

The Americans around you are experts at writing thank you cards. They’ve been learning how to express gratitude American-style since they were small children! So, don’t be shy. Ask for help.

Thanks: ways to show it in the USA

How do you show gratitude in your country? What kinds of things do you do for people? What actions do you take?

a bouquet of tulips and a thank you card

In every country there are different gratitude customs. You need to learn and practice American ways to make your host family happy. For example:

  • In the USA, we "pitch in" and help around the house.
  • We also offer to help - and insist on helping.
  • We look for things to do and find ways to be helpful.
These are all ways to show feelings of gratitude and appreciation in the United States when someone invites you to live with them for so many months. Check out the video below for more ideas. What else can you do? Which actions will you take today?


Thanksgiving is Every Day in the USA

Americans value gratitude, but not just feeling it. We like to express it openly with words, cards and actions. And guess what?  In the USA, we reward grateful people with friendship and love. 

a teenage boy holding a metal sign that says gratitude

Once a year Americans stop everything to celebrate Thanksgiving. But every day, people all over the country find ways to give thanks to friends, family, coworkers, teachers and even strangers with words, cards and actions.

a thanksgiving dinner with turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and a small pumpkinThanksgiving is much more than a meal. It is one of the most important holidays in the USA. It's a time to give thanks together with those we love.

So, now it's your turn. Welcome to the USA! We're grateful you came to learn about our culture. And we just love it when you share your culture too! We also appreciate the time you took to read this post...

...And we thank you in advance for all the ways you will show  gratitude to your host family this year!


Tags: Cultural Exchange, American values, Gratitude in the USA

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