Chances are if you’re not hosting Thanksgiving in your home, you’ll be attending a dinner at someone else’s house. It can be intimidating showing up to a Thanksgiving dinner with friends. Do I bring a dish? Do I know what my host’s hospitality agreement is and what that even means? Well, fear not, friends. Here is your ultimate guide to being the best guest at Thanksgiving dinner.
Always Ask Before Bringing a Dish or Dessert-I mentioned this in my previous post, but for hosts Thanksgiving is their Super Bowl. Chefs love to determine the menu well in advance. Some people will even have a theme. While it’s very nice to offer to bring something, always ask your host what you can bring. You don’t need two types of corn. If you’re asked to bring a specific item, bring that and nothing else. Most of the time, the items you’re bringing are an added bonus to the menu for the host.
Always Bring a Gift-If you’re not bringing a side dish, make sure to always bring some type of gift for the host. This is just simple manners, but sometimes easily overlooked. Wine always goes over well. In my house especially. Hey! Try to find out a little about your host before you decide on a gift. You might have to do some homework. Put those hours of Facebook stalking to good use.
Don’t Go Overboard-If you aren’t able to find any clues about your hosts likes and dislikes from your Facebook stalking, a mid-range bottle of wine is always good. Personally, I think an easy drinking wine like Pinot Noir suits most palates. This is one my favorites. Or, a small journal for the host to keep track of their Thanksgiving dinners is always a thoughtful gift.
Stay Out of The Kitchen-Unless you’re asked to do something in the kitchen or the host says it’s okay to hang out there, hang out somewhere else. There are a lot of moving parts to hosting dinner, and a lot of that occurs in the kitchen. For a cook, to have to work around people standing in front of their drawers or oven is just plain annoying.
Make Yourself Useful in Other Ways-Offer to get other guests their drinks. Play bartender. Or, offer to set the table. Jump on clearing the table. Wash dishes. Take out garbage. All of these little things are extremely helpful to a host. After dinner is served a host typically feels like they can relax. Let them enjoy that moment.
Don’t Get Too Drunk-No one likes Drunk Uncle. Well, we do, but you don’t want to be that guy. Keep your drinking in check until children are gone or the hosts have began letting their guard down. And for heaven’s sake, don’t drink all the hosts booze. At least bring something to offer and share.
Acknowledge the Host’s Hospitality Agreement-What I mean by this is as a guest it’s important to make some sort of verbal acknowledgment of the hosts rules. I love hearing a guest say ‘It’s your day, tell me how I can help. I’ll do whatever you need’. You are validating to the host you know how stressful hosting can be.
Bring a Dish that Doesn’t Require Much Work-Great! You’re bringing a side dish. Awesome. Thanks so much. Don’t bring something you will have to assemble in the host’s kitchen. If it’s a dish the host can pop in the oven, great. If it’s something that can go in the fridge, even better. A simple Caprese salad is always a great addition.
What for the Host to Offer a To Go Box-Don’t assume there will be enough food for you to take in your doggy bag. Remember how I said it’s the Super Bowl for chef-y types? Typically, they have an idea already brewing in their head for what to do with that leftover turkey, and it doesn’t involve you.
If you follow these simple rules for attending Thanksgiving feasts, you will always be considered a great guest!