Newport Manners & Etiquette: Thanksgiving Tips for Holiday Cheer

Wednesday, November 27, 2013


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When to make the big announcement?

Thanksgiving turkey wine etiquette. Bringing home my gay boyfriend for the holidays to make the big announcement. Tips for those who can't hold their liquor. Gift card etiquette for funerals. Merrymaking questions before Thanksgiving to Didi Lorillard at

Choosing wine for turkey

Dear Didi,

White or red wine with Thanksgiving turkey? Which to take to my new in-laws? D.B., Portsmouth

Dear D.B.,

Both white and red wine pair equally well with turkey, because the bird has both dark and light meat. Some guests prefer light over the dark and others want both. In doubt, call to find out what kind of wine your host wants you to bring. Otherwise, ask in an upmarket liquor store for a White Burgundy or Sauvignon Blanc (also white), or/and a Pinot Noir (red). If the host asks for both, take one of each. Otherwise bring a couple of bottles of the same, either red or chilled white. It gets complicated with fresh wine glasses when there are too many options. Keep it simple, but good. Your host has a menu, a master plan, if your wine isn't drunk during the meal, don't take it personally, and you certainly wouldn't take it home. Most importantly, you didn't walk into your in-law's house empty handed. ~Didi

Handling drunks during the holidays

Dear Didi,

My boyfriend can't hold his liquor. He never drinks during the day. Only after work and before supper. How do I keep him from getting juiced up during family holiday dinners? T.R., Worcester, MA

Dear T.R.,

Feed your boyfriend something starchy ahead of time, such as a ham and cheese sandwich At the dinner table, pour him a glass of water and ask him to drink as much water as he does beer/wine. When he becomes tipsy, it's time to go home. If he balks, tell him the choice he makes to get juiced is effecting your relationship. Your concern is admirable. You have full credit for heading off any trouble at the pass, but it is ultimately his problem. ~Didi

Announcing your same-sex marriage at family festivities

Dear Didi,

My parents are surprisingly nice to my boyfriend and have invited him to come for Thanksgiving. During dinner we plan to announce that we're getting married. I want my parents, siblings, and their kids to accept him as my wife and I'm wondering how to make this easier for them. N.M., Boston

Dear N.M.,

Congratulations on your upcoming marriage. Nevertheless, holidays are not the proper occasion to make astounding announcements. Separate your personal milestone from your family holiday traditions. The key phrase in your question is "surprisingly nice." It sounds as though your relationship may still feel too new to them. Gently, help your family adjust by the two of you spending more time with them over the holidays and they'll come to understand how well you and your fiancée get along. After the holidays, visit with them privately, just the four of you, to make the special announcement. Since Thanksgiving is a festive occasion for all your family members, you don't want to steal the show with such an important personal announcement. Bringing home your boyfriend is one thing, bringing home your fiancée is serious--and, during the holidays, distracting. ~Didi

Gift cards for funerals

My mother-in-law just passed away. My sister-in-law's office sent a nice flower arrangement to the service along with a gift card. Who should actually get the gift card, my father-in-law or sister-in-law? H.D., North Providence

Dear H.D.,

Customarily, gifts of any nature go to the next of kin, who in this case would be your father-in-law, if they were still married. However, the next of kin can designate that gifts go to, say, a child of the deceased. You would have to clear this with the executor of your mother-in-law's estate, which could be either her husband, child, brother, friend, or lawyer. It would be up to the executor to work it out with the deceased's spouse. Traditionally, gifts of money would go toward funeral and burial expenses. In this case, someone could buy the gift card and the money would be used to help with funeral expenses. ~Didi


Do you have a question for Didi? Email it to [email protected] or visit her at If your question is used, we can withhold your name and address. Didi researches etiquette and all matters of manners for her book,"Newport Etiquette." Check out previous Newport Manners & Etiquette columns below the slideshow. More topics can be accessed by clicking here.


Related Slideshow: 5 Great Spots For Dining Out On Thanksgiving 2013

Looking to dine out on Thanksgiving? Then check out the five great Rhode Island restaurants who will be serving up Thanksgiving feasts of their own style...

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The Capital Grille, Providence

Steak for Thanksgiving? Heck, we'd take a Capital Grill steak any day, any where, any time. This Thanksgiving the Providence institution will be open, and will feature their daily menu of dry-aged steaks and other delights. And YES, they'll have all of the traditional Thanksgiving specials you'd expect, too. The wine list is another reason to pick the Capital Grille as it will feature something to accent the seasonal food on the plate.

1 Union Station

(401) 521-5600

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The Shelter Harbor Inn, Westerly

One of our favorite holiday spots in Rhode Island is the Shelter Harbor Inn. Located in the southwest corner of our little state, you can find good food and drink here 365 days a year. On special occasions, it becomes a warm and inviting place to spend the day or evening. This year they feature a four-course menu that begins with soup or chowder. That is followed by a salad with a cranberry/champagne vinaigrette and your choice of four entrees. Finish up with a choice of four desserts highlighted by Indian pudding a la mode.

10 Wagner Rd.

(401) 322-8883

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Faial Restaurant, Smithfield

For a classic, old-school feeling holiday, check out Faial Restaurant. This Portuguese/American classic has been feeding the hungry masses in Smithfield for years now. They feature a menu of local seafood classics and Portuguese cuisine inspired by family recipes. On Thanksgiving, they will be featuring a menu that includes prime rib, surf and turf, lobsters, filet mignon and of course, the full turkey dinner. You can still get all of their famous seafood dishes that day too as the whole menu will be offered.

970 Douglas Pike

(401) 231-1100

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The Chapel Grille, Cranston

If you are looking for a beautiful location paired with delicious food, leave it to the capable folks running the Chapel Grille. Located in an historic chapel that dates to 1891, the restaurant features soaring vaulted ceilings and lots of exposed rock walls. It also features impeccable cuisine by the culinary team led by Chef Tim Kelly. Their Thanksgiving menu features both traditional Thanksgiving classics and the Chapel Grille's own tasty Italian food. We are intrigued by the Berkshire pork chop with sweet potato flan and braised collard greens.

3000 Chapel View Blvd

(401) 944-4900

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Aspire Seasonal Kitchen, Providence

The restaurant located in the Hotel Providence if offering a delicious-sounding Thanksgiving buffet. We love that we can immediately help ourselves to seconds! Beginning with the parsnip, chestnut and soup and culminating with a choice of six desserts, this menu has it all. The entrée choices feature turkey, chicken, cod, and bone-in ham. The pecan and sweet potato pie seems like a sweet pun intended!

311 Westminster St.

(401) 521-3333


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