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November 18, 2010

Top Tips For Guests & Hosts For Successful Holiday Entertaining

It's Thanksgiving crunch time!  Just days away, you've learned you will have an unexpected out of town visitor.  Do you bring him/her to the Thanksgiving party you're attending?  Or, you or your friend is Vegan, do you ask the host if she will be providing Vegan dishes?  What to do!!  Well, to help you with all the hussle and bussle and stresses of  holiday entertaining, I visited my friend Emily Post for tips on how to be the perfect Guest or Host and wanted to share what I've learned with you.

As a Guest:

•RSVP. Let your host know right away if you can come or not. If you received a "family" invitation, let him know how many of you can come. Don’t show up with uninvited guests.

•Offer to contribute to the meal – but don’t dictate the menu. Your best bet is to make your offer open-ended and follow your host’s direction. If you or your 'party' have special dietary needs, it is very gracious to offer to bring a dish that meets those needs. "John is a vegetarian – I’d love to bring a delicious tofu dish if that’s okay with you."

•Dress appropriately. At the very least, clean and pressed. As a true sign of consideration, dress one notch up. Your hosts are probably going all out, and your attire can either say, “I appreciate the effort you are making for all of us,” or “I thought you were ordering take out.”

•Arrive on time. Yes, it is a day of feasting, but that turkey is going to be done at some point and your hosts are trying to plan around that magic moment. If you arrive late, don’t expect anyone to wait for you.

•Offer to help with the clean-up. Family or non-family, this is one day where it is a great idea to pitch in.

•Avoid controversial or painful family subjects. This is a day to be together in a spirit of generosity and thankfulness for all you do have. Let it be so.

•Leave on time. If you are a house guest, stick to the agreed begin and end times of your visit.

•Say thank you. A phone call or, better yet, a hand-written note of thanks to your hosts shows your appreciation for all their hard work.

Photo by Good Housekeeping

As a Host:

•Extend the invitation at least a month in advance, longer for those who might be traveling. If out-of-town guests are staying with you, set a beginning and an end for the visit. Three days is usually the optimum.

•Be as accommodating as possible to 'extras.' "John and I would love to come, but our friend Carol will be spending Thanksgiving alone – is it possible to include her?" If you have the room, of course they should bring Carol! (Be creative – fit in as many as possible. This is the celebration that exemplifies the generous spirit!)

•Have a flexible menu plan. Because Thanksgiving is a bit of a pot luck affair, be prepared to be "coordination central." Accept all offers for special diet accommodations – see 'John the vegetarian' above.

•Review the guest list with everyone in your household. Let your immediate family in on who will be sharing Thanksgiving with you so they can help set the tone for the day. If little Jack greets Great-aunt Betsy with a big smile and a "Hi, Aunt Betsy," just imagine how welcome she will feel!

•Assign tasks. Greeters, hors d’ouevres passers, bar tenders, ‘circulators and introducers,’ servers – even though most guests may be family members, give them the red carpet treatment.

•Take a tip from the airlines: serve and seat young children and the elderly first.  {this really works at my house, we always feed the kids first}

•FHB – an acronym to be whispered to immediate family ONLY! FHB means “Family Hold Back.” If there is a critical shortage of a  food item, discretely whisper to family members, ‘FHB the dark meat.” It’s the secret signal that guests get first dibs on the dark meat.

•Turn off the TV during Thanksgiving dinner. Thanksgiving has been around long before football or television. VCR’s, TVo – use the technology! Focus your attention where it belongs – on the lovingly prepared food, your family and your friends. When the dishes are done, EVERYONE can enjoy the games (or the chat in the other room!)

•Say thank you. Don’t forget to thank everyone who participated in the planning, cooking and cleaning up.

Photo by Cove Table Designs

You may also enjoy:  Informal and Formal Place Settings for your holiday dinner parties

Are you a guest or a host this Thanksgiving? Pin It


Pat Tillett said...

It all makes sense and should keep me out of trouble, but clean AND pressed?

Oh yeah, I forgot, you LOVE to iron! Right?


Nancy Grossi ~ Churned In Cali ~ The Wife of a Dairyman said...

Pat, you are too funny! Okay, only if it's wrinkled:) And yes, ironing is very soothing!

Ren- Lady Of The Arts said...

Great list Nancy!
What a great idea to use a code word for holding back- I'm going to share that with my fam!

Nancy Grossi ~ Churned In Cali ~ The Wife of a Dairyman said...

Thanks Ren! Hard to tell sometimes if things will run out...always good to have a code word:) Always a plesure to see you here!

Damaris @Kitchen Corners said...

I love the dress clean tip. We're going to my husband's aunts house for thanksgiving and I'm bringing 3 different dresses for my very messy baby.

Nancy Grossi ~ Churned In Cali ~ The Wife of a Dairyman said...

Damaris, that sounds wonderful! I bet your little one is going to look adorable in all three outfits! Have a great holiday:)