13 Things Polite People Don’t Do on Thanksgiving
Make Thanksgiving enjoyable for all parties and avoid the things polite people don't do on Turkey Day.
One way to show your thanks this Thanksgiving is with politeness
Thanksgiving is one of the best holidays of the year. Although the stress of gift-giving or grilling the perfect hot dog doesn’t apply on Turkey Day, there are plenty of stressful opportunities. Both hosts and guests can nix this stress by simply being grateful and polite on Thanksgiving Day, and while they plan the big feast. Click on to learn about the things polite people don’t do on Thanksgiving, according to etiquette experts.
It sometimes takes months to plan the perfect Thanksgiving in advance if you include the party planning, cleaning, and cooking. So etiquette expert, author, and Golden Rules Gal, Lisa Grotts says polite people should never arrive late. “As a general rule of thumb, punctuality shows respect for people and time,” she says. “In the off chance a guest is running late, it’s expected that they inform the host of their late arrival.” Similarly, polite guests don’t overstay their welcome, either. Again, it’s all about respecting people and their time. If the host starts putting away food and thanking guests for coming, it’s a clear sign to leave.
Show up to dinner empty-handed
Arriving to Thanksgiving dinner empty-handed is a big no-no. Emilie Dulles, who has more than 29 years of experience in traditional etiquette, says to check with the hosts ahead of time to know if bringing a dish or a beverage is helpful. If you still think it’s not a big deal to arrive without a gift, remember that your host went out of their way to prepare for the holiday, says Bonnie Tsai, founder and director of Beyond Etiquette. “It’s important to bring a gift as a token of gratitude to express that you appreciate them opening up their home for you,” Tsai says. “You can choose a gift that is related to their passions or hobbies; even a bottle of wine could work, but always do a bit of research beforehand.” Use this guide to pick the right hostess gift for every occasion.
Complain about the food
Polite guests don’t complain about Thanksgiving dishes not being identical to their childhood recipes, according to Dulles. “Polite guests embrace their hosts’ take on Thanksgiving fare and have a little bit of everything as a courtesy to whoever did the cooking,” she says. No one will complain if you make something from this ultimate Thanksgiving menu.
Hang out with the TV instead of friends or family
It’s so tempting to plop in front of the TV after indulging in some turkey, but it’s also rude. Polite guests may enjoy watching some of the holiday TV shows, but they also offer to help with any last-minute tasks, Dulles says. Plus, Grotts adds that Thanksgiving is the perfect time to catch up with relatives and close friends. Each guest must earn their keep by making conversation. Instead of checking social media, put your phone down and focus on the food and people by your side, Tsai suggests. Liven up the conversation with some of these Thanksgiving jokes.
Invite strangers or bringing pets
Always check with your host before inviting strangers or bringing pets to celebrate Turkey Day. Never assume that it’s OK and always confirm that your host is comfortable before inviting others, Tsai says. An extra guest also throws off a seated dinner, Grotts adds. You might feel bad leaving your pet home alone on this holiday but think twice before bringing home consolation leftovers because these Thanksgiving foods are really bad for cats and dogs.
Take too much food
Taking too much food that ends up going to waste is one of the most unknowingly rude things people do on Thanksgiving, according to Dulles. “Just because the buffet is extra-long and replete with dozens of dishes doesn’t mean that the Thanksgiving food should be treated as if it can be wasted willy nilly,” she says. Thanksgiving leftovers are better for eating or giving away to people who are hungry. Although Thanksgiving and overeating go together like wine and cheese, some people can take this too far. “Polite guests never overindulge when it comes to food, alcohol, or conversation,” Grotts says.
Avoid the cleanup
After the joy of digging into turkey, potatoes, and stuffing wears off comes the dreaded cleanup. It isn’t so bad if polite guests help hosts. “Whether it is setting the table or doing dishes after a meal, it’s important to show your host that you’re not just taking advantage of their hospitality or treating their home like a restaurant where they have to pick up and clean up after you,” Tsai says. “Pitching in to help out shows that you’re respectful of their home and want to contribute as a guest.” Still, some hosts might refuse your help. Tsai says to listen since you might be adding more trouble or stress in the kitchen rather than make it easier. Get ahead with this holiday cleaning checklist.
Show up unannounced
Hosts spend lots of time planning for their Thanksgiving parties, and it someone shows up unannounced it can throw a wrench into their planning. It’s equally rude to cancel at the last minute, according to Tsai. “Unless there is a true emergency that you need to take care of or something happened that is completely out of your control, show up on time and participate in the festivities that were planned for you,” Tsai says. If you ever want to be invited back, follow these modern party etiquette rules.
Forget to thank your host after the holiday
Polite people don’t forget to thank their host. Consider sending a hand-written thank you note. Given the effort, time, and cost of putting together a Thanksgiving meal, polite guests remember to take a few minutes to pen a note of gratitude on nice stationery to their hosts, Dulles says. There are a few other times you must, yes must, send a thank you note.
Put your guests to work all day
Guests aren’t the only people who need to brush up on their Thanksgiving manners. Hosts should note a few things, too. Polite hosts never put every guest to work all day long, according to Dulles. Remember that guests aren’t staff or personal assistants. Don’t assume or ask your guests to babysit while you cook or run out and buy things, unless they offer, Tsai says. “It’s acceptable to ask your guests to pick something up for you on their way to your home, but don’t expect them to run out to the store for you when they’ve arrived,” Tsai says. If you go to the store around Thanksgiving time, remember these things polite people don’t do at Costco.
Bring up past grievances
Don’t make Thanksgiving awkward by bringing up old family dirt or any of these things you should never discuss at Thanksgiving dinner. Polite hosts set the tone for the celebration, so do your best to steer the conversation clear of controversy or touchy subjects. This might mean suggesting a change of subject or transitioning to another activity, Grotts says.
Make your guests pick their seats
Polite hosts don’t leave their guests with the awkward task of picking their seats, according to Dulles. There’s one less thing to argue about if hosts decide where everyone sits before people arrive. You can pull off the perfect holiday seating chart with these tips.
Ignore your guests’ dietary needs
Assuming all dishes work for all guests is a rookie and rude mistake. Ask your guests about food allergies and dietary restrictions before you plan your Thanksgiving menu. “No one expects the host to fully cater to their Keto or Atkins diet, but if you know a guest is vegetarian or is allergic to gluten, you wouldn’t serve dishes that they can’t enjoy” Tsai says. “Be sure to make note of which dishes include meat or gluten so your guests know which dishes they can steer clear of if they have dietary restrictions.” Start with these Thanksgiving recipes for people with special dietary needs.