You might expect that I am about to tell you which fork to use and how to remove that unwanted item from your mouth during the meal, but I’m not. I am going to go off the grid and talk about some of those pesky little things that occur at the Thanksgiving gathering of friends, family and close workplace associates.
Here are a few of the do’s for minding your Thanksgiving table manners:
- Do think about topics for conversation ahead of time. There is a lot happening in the world. Not all of it is good as you well know. Steer clear of doom and gloom. And for heaven’s sake, don’t talk about the current election or pre-election issues. Think about interesting and noncontroversial subjects to discuss. Don’t ask anyone questions that are intrusive, like “So when do you two plan on having children?” or “Have you given any thought to getting married any time soon?”
- Do offer to bring a dish or a beverage to the dinner. No surprises, please. Ask the host what you can do to be helpful or to complement the meal. If you decide to take flowers at the last minute, be sure that you take them in a container and already arranged. The host or hostess should not have to stop receiving guests or preparing the meal to search for a vase and make a floral arrangement at the last minute. If you bring wine without notice, don’t expect it to be served at the meal. In fact, make it clear that it is a gift for later.
- Do offer to help either before the meal to set things out or afterwards to clean up. Unless the host has a staff of servants, you need not expect to be waited on hand and foot. You are there as a participant not an observer.
- Do leave that cell or smart phone in the off position and out of sight. Please, please, please do not put it on the dining table or anywhere that will give the impression you are either terribly important or terribly bored.
- Do remember to thank your host on your way out for the wonderful time and the delicious meal–even if you hated those sweet potatoes with the marshmallows on top.
- Do sit down and craft a handwritten note as soon as you get home. Nothing expresses gratitude in quite the same way as a personal note that you took the time to write.
One last tip: if you do find yourself with something in your mouth that you can’t chew or swallow, the rule is that it comes out the same way it goes in. So if it went in with your fingers, it comes out with your fingers. If it went in with a fork or spoon, it comes out with a fork or spoon. If that rule sends shivers down your spine, go with the latest advice for modern manners, hold your napkin to your mouth with as little fanfare as possible and remove the item with your fingers. Feel better now?
P.S. If you have other concerns about your Thanksgiving table manners, you can order my eBook on holiday etiquette and download it immediately before you go to that Thanksgiving dinner. With my book in hand (should you choose to print it out) or on your laptop, iPad or phone, you will sail seamlessly through the holidays.
Hire Lydia to work with your staff to improve customer service and employee relations through the use of those priceless and often over-looked soft skills called manners. Lydia is the “unstuffy” business etiquette expert who helps individuals and organizations add the polish that builds profits. We’re talking about your bottom line here.
Since 1996, countless people have benefited from her wisdom through keynotes, seminars and conference breakout sessions. Her Southern charm and sense of humor have made her a sought-after speaker and consultant.
Based in Savannah, Georgia, Lydia is available for national, regional and local speaking and training engagements. She has suitcase; will travel.