Thanksgiving Tips for Hosts and Guests

Entertaining and etiquette tips for hosts and guests.

By Andrew Boorstyn

Want to be the perfect holiday host or guest? Follow these tips on etiquette and entertaining, and your dinner companions are sure to be thankful.

If you are the host…

1. Plan to provide a traditional Thanksgiving feast, then be creative with side dishes.

2. Whenever anyone offers to help or bring a dish, say, “Yes, thank you!”

3. Use hollowed bread loaves for charming serving containers for cheeses, dips, olives, chips and small sandwiches.

4. Once the table settings and centerpiece are in place, sit in each chair to make sure each guest will feel comfortable.

5. Include favorite kids’ foods, especially those they can eat neatly with their fingers.

6. Provide at least one low-calorie dish and a vegetarian option. Then serve a sinful dessert.

7. Completely clear the table of all dishes from previous courses before serving dessert.

8. Fill the sink with soapy water so cutlery and small dishes can soak clean as the guests are finishing.

9. Make it easy for guests who help you clean up to help you recycle. Place bins in the kitchen labeled “glass,” “cans” and “trash.”

10. Keep club soda nearby to clean spots or stains on the tablecloth or clothing.

If you are a guest…

1. Arrive no earlier than the time the host has announced and no later than half an hour after the time.

2. Plan to stay about an hour after dinner unless travel plans or sleepy children necessitate leaving earlier.

3. Bring a gift and write a note of thanks afterward.

4. Offer to help set up for dinner and to clean afterward.

5. Notify the host of any special dietary needs — if you are a vegetarian, diabetic or allergic to common foods. You can tell the host how to prepare a dish you can eat, or even better, offer to bring that dish yourself.

6. If you’re going to a potluck Thanksgiving, bring a serving dish with your contribution. Remember, the best potluck dishes are those that need minimal preparation in the host’s kitchen, can be served at room temperature and require only a fork to eat.