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An Extemporaneous Guide to Thanksgiving Etiquette

Off the top of my head…

  1. If you're invited to someone else's house, bring something. And don't fish for compliments later.
  2. Don't ask to be invited. If you're a good enough friend with someone, they'll think to ask you about your Thanksgiving Day plans.
  3. You may not bring a guest unless the host asks if you're bringing anyone. Asking to bring a guest can be okay depending on your relationship with the host.
  4. On most occasions, the host gives way to the guests. They get to sit on the couch while the host stands, etc. But on "big meal" days, guests should insist the host gets to sit from time to time, though the host will probably defer to the guests. It's a lot of work, so be courteous of that.
  5. Mind your conversation, particularly in mixed company. Thanksgiving is a day for being thankful, not for arguing about politics.
  6. If you don't like someone, simply avoid them. There are plenty of other people to talk to. That being said, don't get mad if someone is ignoring a lot of people - it's better than causing trouble.
  7. If you're a guest, offer to help clean up (and mean it) or do dishes. Most hosts will refuse, but if they accept, you can trust that your help is something for which they're thankful.
  8. Don't eat so much or get so drunk that you fall asleep on your guest's couch. You don't want to be that guy (or gal) - the one everyone keeps whispering about "Do we wake him up now?"
  9. If you want to eat on time and/or keep your life, stay out of the kitchen (unless you're actually productively cooking something).
  10. If you bring something to eat, don't assume that there's refrigerator space to cool it or an oven or range to cook it.
  11. If you're the host, expect at least half of these rules to be broken.