Being helpful and involved doesn't require handling the turkey.

By Kat Tretina
November 12, 2019

If you're an invited guest at someone's home this Thanksgiving, you've been given a tremendous gift: You get to enjoy a home-cooked holiday feast without having to spend all day basting the turkey. You likely know that this is no small feat, so to repay the host's kindness, effort, and money spent, it's important to be the best possible guest. An easy way to do just that? Take meaningful part in the celebration—even if you're not the one manning the kitchen. Here, five ways you can show your appreciation for your hosts and contribute to the festivities.

Marley Spoon

Related: How to Host an Allergy-Friendly Thanksgiving

Offer to Bring a Side Dish

Even if the host assures you that they're handling the entire meal, it's a good idea to offer your culinary assistance. According to Diane Gottsman, national etiquette expert and founder of The Protocol School of Texas, touch base ahead of time to see what you can bring. "Always ask the host what you can provide for the meal," she says. "She or he may say 'nothing,' or they may ask for a sweet potato casserole or cornbread dressing. You may also offer to bring a favorite recipe to share." Bringing a dessert or side dish can be a great way to add to the meal, while decreasing the host's workload—and not overcrowding the kitchen.

Bring wine or a signature drink.

If you know what kind of wine or drinks your fellow celebrants (but most importantly, your host) enjoys, pick up a bottle or two and bring it along to dinner—just make sure to consider the party's final headcount, so you know how many to bring (or make, if you'd rather play mixologist and whip up a batch cocktail).

Entertain the children.

Waiting for dinner to be ready can be tough on kids—they often turn rambunctious in the interlude between arrival and meal time. Help your host by entertaining the children (and keeping them away from the hot stove). Start a game of tag in the backyard, encourage them to color, or set up a board game to keep them busy (at least until the mashed potatoes are ready).

Send a gift to the host—either on the day of or in advance.

As a guest, it's always recommended that you send a gift to the host. "Even if you contribute food to the dinner, [also] bring a hostess gift, such as a bottle of wine in a gift bag or a set of cocktail napkins," advises Gottsman. "Send flowers in advance, or a box of fruit." If you are sending a floral arrangement, schedule them to arrive before the event, so the host doesn't have to scramble to find a vase.

Help clean up.

After hours (if not weeks!) of preparation and cooking, the host is likely, and understandably, exhausted. But post-dinner, there's a mountain of dishes and pots and pans to tackle. Commandeer the cleanup: load the dishwasher, scrub the Dutch oven, and put away the china. Your host won't know how to thank you enough.

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