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Modern Manners + Etiquette: How to be a Good Thanksgiving Guest

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


Do ask your hostess: "What can I bring?"

Here's a gentle etiquette refresher for a spot-on memorable Thanksgiving and we're not talking turkey.  Your host expects you to be a good guest and she'll do her best to give you a exceptional holiday.  Make your host feel special too and you'll be invited back next Thanksgiving. 

DO: Reply to the host's invitation immediately.

If you haven't yet RSVP'd to an outstanding Thanksgiving celebration, commit one way or the other NOW. Remember, now is the time to ask if you can bring your partner or pet, and not the day before Thanksgiving.  You wouldn't want to show up with your latest flirt only to find that there's no chair or place setting for her at the dinner table.  Or arrive with Rover only to discover that your host's son is allergic to dogs.

DO: Ask your hostess, "What can I bring?"

If you like to cook, suggest one seasonal dish that you do well.  Or suggest that you pick up wine or ice, fresh bread or pie from the bakery, candles, flowers, a box of chocolates, or a CD. Do NOT arrive empty-handed.

DON'T: Go casual. 

Dress up in respect for your hosts and the holiday, arrive on time with something in your hand, and thank your hosts for inviting you. Then ask, "What can I do to help?"  Open wine, light candles, help serve, help clear, take out the garbage, etc.?  Pitch in and help.  If there is nothing for you to do just then, let the hostess know you're willing and able to do anything that has to be done.  

DON'T: Play with your mobile device. At all.

Remember, when you arrive for Thanksgiving dinner to turn off your mobile device.  Leave it in your overcoat pocket so that you're not tempted.  Thanksgiving comes but once a year so focus on friends and family at hand and refrain from using any mobile devices.  Look at it this way, if you're texting people on Thanksgiving, they'll think that you're alone and have nothing better to do. 

DO: Be a good guest.

Have a brief conversation with each person and spend time with the elderly as well as the young.  Remember to circulate and not monopolize one person. Pace your consumption of alcohol. Thanksgiving is a day to be thankful for what you have and not to drown yourself into an alcoholic daze because you're feeling sorry for yourself.

DON'T: Be the last guest to leave.

Take home your empty container after leaving the remnants, and thank your host for a lovely dinner.

DO: Follow up, and soon.

Within 48 hours after Thanksgiving, you need to thank your hosts again. Whether you pick up the phone and have a conversation with your host, hand-write your hosts a short note of thanks, e-mail her, or text him, it doesn't matter; just don't forget that a guest always follows up a Thanksgiving dinner with a personalized thank-you. Think what it would mean to you.

Didi Lorillard is the founder/owner and etiquette consultant at NewportManners.com.  Ask Didi questions about relationships, entertaining, and dress codes, but not about how to roast a frozen turkey.  Follow Didi on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Klout, after you've read her GoLocalProv columns listed below.

Hungry for more Thanksgiving stories? Don't miss GoLocalTV's Thanksgiving coverage, today at 4pm, and on demand 24/7, here.


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