How To Be A Good Thanksgiving Guest

Nicole SteegerContributor

We usually share our thoughts on how to plan a party, but it is also important to know how to act when invited to someone else’s party.  Our friend Dawn from Not Just A Mommy (a fabulous entertaining, crafts and party design blog) stopped by to share her tips for being a gracious Thanksgiving guest. We suggest you study up and take her advice (your hostess will thank you for it).

Take a look at Dawn’s suggestions: Thanksgiving is the second most stressful holiday next to Christmas. Between trying to juggle food allergies and hovering family, she who is hosting Thanksgiving has her figurative and literal hands full. Here's how to stay on her Christmas card list...

1. Please, please, please, please RSVP. Especially if the invitation says RSVP. If there is an RSVP date followed by a phone number and email – you MUST RSVP.  It’s rude not to. Remember, it’s your job, not theirs to follow up even if you are busy. There are chairs to borrow, place cards to make and pies to bake. You WILL be seated at the kids' table if she doesn't know you are coming.

2. If you do RSVP and your plans change, you should absolutely let your hostess know ASAP. And I don't mean 10 minutes before the party. I know kids get sick, in-laws suddenly show up and a million other things could go wrong. But you should never let people prepare for you, and not show up, thinking that a mere call the next day with some lame excuse will make it all okay.

3. If you are running late/get lost/ have an emergency, call to let someone know. Please don’t keep dinner waiting without any word from you, especially if you are bringing a dish (see #4). Plus, cold gravy is not fun.

4. If it's a potluck/just bring a dish affair, ask what to bring and be open to an assignment. This avoids five people all brining different pumpkin pies, (although there is nothing wrong with that if you enjoy turkey with a side of pie and some more pie to wash it all down.) Besides, if the hostess is anything like me, there is a crazy, thought-out plan and placement for everything, so she will want dishes that keep within that vision.

5. A good guest NEVER shows up 30 minutes early unless you are part of the work crew. There is nothing a hostess loves less than rushing around trying to remember last minute details while feeling obligated to entertain you by engaging in small talk. Not cool.

6. Oh yes, you must bring a hostess gift. No, your side dish does not count. Why not call and offer to order the Thanksgiving centerpiece or a flower arrangement, then have it delivered ahead of the party. That will rate you high Kool-Aid points. But, if you insist on bringing flowers that day, please bring them pre-arranged in a vase. Stopping to root around under the sink for a vase is so not on the hostess’ to-do list at that moment.

7. Mingle, mingle, mingle. A good hostess senses a lull and will swoop in. But if she has children clawing at her leg or her mother-in-law commenting on herbaking skills, she may be a bit distracted. Don't be a wallflower.  

8. ALWAYS offer to help. It's nice, and if the hostess is working with 17 irons in the fire, she will need all the help she can get. Plus, you will just be paying it forward for the next time you host a party. If she says no, go elsewhere. Don't hover. There is nothing a hostess loves less than rushing around trying to remember tie up loose ends while feeling obligated to entertain you because you are hanging all over her. Refer to #7.

9.  Your dinner conversation should not include ailments or stories about people everyone doesn't know. No good comes from the words "Well, I should probably start from the beginning..."

10. Similar to #8 - ALWAYS offer to help clean-up but a good guest knows when to leave.  If she is twitchy at your offer to wash dishes, she doesn't trust you with her dishes...don't be offended. I twitch when my husband washes dishes because he doesn't stack them 'right' to dry. If the host/ess is blowing out candles and stacking chairs, you should have been gone 20 minutes ago.

If you need some party planning advice for hosting a Thanksgiving celebration, you can take a look at a few of our other ‘Gobble Gobble’ related posts for event entertainment ideas and resources. Remember, booking entertainment for any party is always an easy way to entertain guests and (hopefully) keep them on their best behavior.

What tips do you have for being a polite and proper party guest?  Share your thoughts in the comments below.