Thanksgiving is like the Super Bowl of dinner parties. And your best manners need to be on point if you want to be a welcome and gracious dinner guest. After all, it's the best way to be invited back again next year. If you'd like to make a good impression this turkey day (I'm looking at you, recently cuffed significant others), here's how to do it.
Let your host know of any dietary restrictions.
As soon as possible, let your host know if you have any allergies or diet restrictions that are likely to come up on Thanksgiving.
Ask if you can bring anything.
If the host asks you to bring a dish, make sure it's 90% finished. Something that needs some time in the oven to warm is fine, but taking up precious counter space while you prep your contribution is likely to be unwelcome. If your host declines a dish, consider bringing a small gift for your host (anything but flowers, actually, which force your busy host to scramble for a vase).
It's also a smooth move to call ahead on Thanksgiving day to see if your host has any last minute needs, like ice or napkins.
Show up on time.
You want to goldilocks this business. Don't arrive 45 minutes early or an hour late. Get there right when you're supposed to. In my experience, Thanksgiving invitations are colloquial and vague: "Get here around two," so you have plenty of wiggle room to still be "on time."
Offer to help.
When you greet the host after you arrive, ask if there's anything you can help with. If they give you a job, be ready to roll up your sleeves. If not, stay the hell away from the kitchen.
Put your phone away.
Yes, for the whole afternoon. You want to be a sociable guest. If you absolutely need to check on your fantasy football team, do it on the sly in the bathroom.
Don't start eating until everyone else has.
Every family has their own Thanksgiving traditions. They might like to say grace, give a toast or go around the table to say what they're thankful for. It's best to sit tight and follow the cues of the other people at the table before you dig in.
Don't pass out on the sofa.
All that tryptophan is a compelling reason to settle in for a nap on the sofa, but if you'd like to make the best impression, try and resist the urge to doze off and let everybody know exactly how you sound snoring.
Help with clean up.
Take up your plate and offer to take up plates for the people around you. After dinner's over, pop into the kitchen and see if you can take over some of the dish duty–especially if you see the chef standing over the sink.
Don't stay too long.
You're tired. The hosts are tired. Don't overstay your welcome. When things are winding down, say a gracious "thank you" and go home.