Being a gracious, well-mannered guest at Thanksgiving dinner is often overlooked, but it’s just as important (if not more) as being a great host. Wherever you’re headed for Thanksgiving, heed these seven tips for dinner etiquette to make sure you’ll be welcomed back next year.
Communication Is Everything
Clear communication is essential to help the host properly prepare for the big feast. Start by promptly replying to the invitation (send a formal RSVP if requested). Upon accepting an invitation, let the host know if you have any dietary restrictions so he or she can keep them in mind when planning the menu. While cooking for a gluten-free vegan with a nut allergy can certainly be a challenge, any host would rather plan the meal accordingly than realize there is a guest who can’t eat anything.
Unsure if your invitation includes a significant other? Be sure to ask before showing up with a plus one. While most hosts will likely have a “the more, the merrier” attitude, he or she will greatly appreciate a heads-up, especially when planning a formal dinner. Advance notice should also be provided if you have other plans and need to leave the festivities early or can’t make it on time.
Offer to Bring a Dish
Hosting Thanksgiving is a big undertaking, even for those overachieving Martha Stewart-types who make it look effortless. But the truth is it’s a lot of work and your offer to contribute a dish will likely be welcomed with open arms. Ask the host for suggestions so as not to show up with a duplicate side dish. If the host says she has it all covered, insist on at least bringing a bottle of wine or something like the Gourmet Wine and Cheese Board.
Bring a Host Gift
It doesn’t have to be anything extravagant, just a token of your gratitude for his or her hospitality. A fall-themed floral arrangement sent a day in advance is a thoughtful way to show your appreciation. Wine-loving hosts always appreciate a bottle of their favorite varietal, while the chocoholics will lose it over one of our sweet treats. Relaxation-oriented gifts like candles or spa baskets (I like the Sweet Pea Natural Serenity Spa basket) are also good for helping the host unwind after the dishes are done and the guests have left.
Arrive On Time
When it comes to hosting a big meal like Thanksgiving dinner, timing is crucial and your host likely has a detailed itinerary for the day. For this reason, you should do your best to arrive on time or no more than 30 minutes late. Whatever you do, don’t arrive early. Showing up 30 minutes early is just a rude as arriving an hour late, as it interferes with the host’s jam-packed to-do list.
Put Away That Phone
Sure, you may think it’s flattering to the host that you want to brag about her Thanksgiving spread by photographing your plate and Instagramming it, but in doing so, you’re being a less-than-great guest. Silence your phone and keep it in the other room or in your pocket, as phones have no place at the Thanksgiving dinner table.
Help Clean Up
Instead of simply offering, jump right in and start helping the host clear the table, put away leftovers, do the dishes, and prep for dessert. Follow the host’s lead and don’t begin cleaning up until he or she gets up from the table.
Send a Handwritten Thank You Note
Show your gratitude for a lovely celebration by sending a handwritten thank-you note. Be prompt and send it within a week. A quick note goes a long way in letting the host know how much you appreciated their planning, generosity and hard work.
If You Didn’t Have Time to Get a Gift…
Whether it was a last-minute invite or you simply forgot about the host gift, there’s nothing wrong with sending a token of appreciation after the fact. FTD has a wide variety of thoughtful thank-you gifts from flowers to Starbucks Coffee samplers to fresh fruit baskets and cheese baskets; however, this doesn’t mean that you’re off the hook for everything else—a great guest would never forget to offer his or her help with preparing or cleaning up after the meal.