November 19, 2008

Thanksgiving Etiquette Tips

Whether your Thanksgiving dinner party is a formal affair with fine china and crystal or a laid back family get-together furnished with paper partyware, there are certain etiquette rules to which you should always adhere.

The following is a short list of etiquette tips that will help to make your Thanksgiving event as smooth and enjoyable as possible:

  • Be sure to respond to each Thanksgiving invitation you receive with an accurate guest count. Your host will need to know how much food to prepare and also how many table places to set.
  • Ask the host if you can help by bringing something to the party whether it be a food dish, centerpiece or a bottle of wine. While it is likely that they will simply like you to attend the party, it is always a nice idea to take a small hostess gift as a token of your appreciation. Hostess gifts should be for the host, and should not be used for the actual party.
  • When it comes to filling your plate, less is more. It may be the day of feasting, but remember that there are other guests who need to eat as well. Take a serving size of the dishes you’d like to try, and get a second helping only after everyone else has had a first serving and you are invited to do so by the host or hostess.
  • Be sure to compliment the chef. Cooking a Thanksgiving meal is time consuming and takes a great deal of planning. Show your appreciation with a compliment. Something along “These sweet potatoes are amazing!” will suffice.
  • Offer to help clean up or help with dessert preparations.
  • As the host, be sure to greet each guest and introduce them to others. This is especially important if you have out of town guests. You may want to consider helping to start a conversation by saying something that the guests have in common. For example, “Tom, John shares your enthusiasm for football. His favorite team is the Cowboys.”
  • Use place cards to prevent any seating mishaps or undue stress. If you know that two guests do not get along, simply seat them at different ends of the table. Also, be sure to always seat couples together.
  • Last but not least, remember that it’s okay to accept help offered by your guests (but please never request it). Some of the best conversation happens after dinner, when a few of the guests gather in the kitchen to work on clean-up. Besides, the faster things are cleaned up, the more time everyone has to relax and enjoy each other’s company as a larger group.