Playing Hostess: Thanksgiving Day Etiquette

Deciding to hold Thanksgiving Day dinner at your house can be a tremendous feat.  You have the daunting task of cooking dinner for your family and/or friends and making sure all goes well.  Here are some etiquette tips that you should keep in mind during your hosting duties.

  • Extend an invitation at least one month in advance.

Most people are aware they want to host Thanksgiving by the first of October, so quickly make a list and send out invitations(or ask personally)before Halloween.  This gives you time to order food, if necessary, and gives your invitees time to decide their plans.

  • Greet your guests when they arrive.

If you are able to answer the door, give your guests a warm smile and invite them into your home.  If you are busy and cannot personally answer the door, make sure you are aware a guest has arrived and take the time to say a warm hello.

  • Serve children and elderly first.

If you have invited any children or elderly to your dinner, allow them to get food first.  If you are having a formal dinner where it is served, serve these groups first.  If your dinner is buffet-style, allow these groups first in line.

  • Turn off the TV during dinner.

Ideally, the TV should be off anyway, but if you are holding all-day festivities and the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade was being watched, turn the tv off before serving the meal.  If you or your guests are football fans, and watching the game is part of the festivities, serve dinner before the game.  Make sure you leave plenty of time to eat before turning the TV on for the game.

  • Thank your guests for coming.

Always say thank you as guests are leaving.  They took time out of their holiday to spend it with you, and for that you should be grateful.

For additional reading:

Thanksgiving Day Tips and A somewhat humorous take on Thanksgiving Day etiquette.


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