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Tips for a Happy Thanksgiving Hero Label

Tips for a Happy Thanksgiving

photo: knife carving a perfectly browned turkey sitting on a cutting board with herbs

We can’t offer you a turkey hotline, and we know that Thanksgiving 2021 will likely still be far different from the usual for most. But we are hoping you'll join us in leaning in as safely and as best we can to celebrate this year. We'll be doing a shared meal via doorstep drop-offs at the Post houses. And of a big family Zoom call between several smaller gatherings. While some things may be different, here are some classic tips for hosts and guests (even if that's just within your household) to help make your Thanksgiving both happy and memorable.

As a Guest

  • RSVP. Let your host know right away if you can come or not. If you received a "family" invitation, let the host know how many of you can come. Don’t show up with uninvited guests. There is usually room for one more at Thanksgiving, but this is something you must discuss with your host ahead of time.
  • 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's very gracious to offer to bring a dish that meets those needs. "Jen and I are vegetarian – I’d love to bring a dish for us if that's okay with you."
  • Dress appropriately. At the very least, clean. For many the holiday is a chance to dress up a little. 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." Joking aside, many celebrate by cozy-ing up on the couch, TV on, and a buffet in the kitchen to graze from throughout the day, and if that's what makes the holiday special for you and yours we say there is nothing wrong with that - just don't forget a paper towel can make a great napkin. 
  • Arrive on time - or for many this year, come to the table 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, it's best not to expect anyone to wait for you - and definitely offer an apology for being late.
  • Put your cell phone away at the dinner table. You can check texts, scores, Instagram after the meal. However, hosts, it is considerate to offer a moment for guests to take pictures before the meal or before everyone digs in. 
  • Throughout the day it's best to avoid controversial or painful topics. It's not that some debate or the sharing of different opinions isn't welcome, but arguing instead of debating or frequently bringing up negative topics dampens the spirit of the day. This is a day to be together in a spirit of generosity and thankfulness for all you do have. Let that theme shine throughout the mood and conversation.
  • Offer to help with the clean-up. Family or non-family, this is one day where it is a great idea to pitch in.
  • Leave on time and follow any other safety protocol that may be in place where you live. If you are a houseguest, 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.

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 standard. Be aware of guests who may have to say no this year due to travel restrictions and safety precautions. If a guest is pressuring you for an invitation you don't want to give, you might try saying, "We've made our decision for this year and while we wish we could celebrate with we are going to stick to celebrating just our household. As soon as we're ready though, we're going to be hosting a make-good on Thanksgiving!"
  • Be as accommodating as possible to 'extras.' "John and I would love to come, but our friend Tanya will be spending Thanksgiving alone – is it possible to include her?" If you have the room, of course they should bring Tanya! (Be creative – fit in as many as possible. This is the celebration that exemplifies the generous spirit!) This year isn't likely the year for this advice, but it doesn't mean you can't include someone who is alone in a group video chat or drop off some food for them on their doorstep. 
  • 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.
  • Review the guest list with everyone in your household. Cluing your immediate family in on who will be sharing Thanksgiving with you can help set the tone for the day. If little Joey greets Great-aunt Miriam with a big smile and a "Hi, Aunt Miriam," just imagine how welcome she will feel.
  • Assign tasks. Greeters, hors d’oeuvres passers, 'bar tenders,' 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.
  • FHB: an acronym to be whispered to immediate family ONLY! FHB means "Family Hold Back." If there is a critical shortage of a critical 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.
  • Say thank you. Don't forget to thank everyone who participated in the planning, cooking and cleaning up. And of course, thank your guests for coming.