November 22, 2006 Edition

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Tips for a pleasant Thanksgiving day

By Linda Lou Moore
Guest Writer

Asking the right question and providing the correct information can create a smooth Thanksgiving celebration that everyone can be thankful for.

Question:

Last year I prepared Thanksgiving dinner. It took days to plan. Some of the guests were late. How should I let my guests know that arriving on time is important? Stragglers and latecomers can ruin the meal.

Answer:

The host or hostess sets the ground rules. When you invite your guests tell them the time you plan to serve Thanksgiving dinner. You may say something like: "I would like to invite you to Thanksgiving dinner. We will gather around one o'clock so that we have time to visit. Then, we'll serve dinner at two. That way we can begin eating on time."

After you've discussed the schedule, then you are under no obligation to wait on serving the meal if someone is late.

Question:

Our house will be filled with relatives and friends for Thanksgiving. With so many guests from diverse backgrounds and with differing opinions, what are some topics of conversation that will keep the afternoon enjoyable and not stressful? I don't want to get into a heated discussion or have hurt feelings.

Answer:

Although you can't control what your guests may say or do, the host or hostess can set the mood for the occasion. Start by being upbeat, even if you've burned the turkey. Keeping a sense of humor on these occasions can be a lifesaver. A positive attitude is contagious. Don't complain or make disparaging remarks.

Be sure to introduce everyone if you have invited a mix of friends and relatives. General topics of interest are, of course, the food and things the guests have in common such as holiday plans, entertainment, recreation, travel, school and/or children.

Try to avoid subjects that may end up in a no-win situation. Inflammatory topics may make others uncomfortable and can often end up in heated discussions or hurt feelings.

High stress or uncomfortable topics may include:

Question:

I've been invited to join friends for Thanksgiving dinner.

Should I thank them for the invitation and just show up? Should I ask if I can bring something? Should I bring a hostess gift? Is it all right to wear whatever I want?

Answer:

When replying to this type of invitation it is always nice to ask if you can bring something. The hostess may tell you not to bring a thing or she may ask if you could bring a particular dish. If she asks you to bring something, check to see how many people will be attending so that you know how much to prepare.

When you bring a hostess gift, you show that you appreciate being invited. A hostess gift is usually a gift that can be used at the convenience or leisure of the host. A host or hostess gift is a token of appreciation. This type of a gift may be a plant, fine candy, a bottle of wine, a book or other items that may be of interest to the host.

When invited to Thanksgiving dinner it is a good idea to ask about dress. That way you are comfortable knowing what to wear and what is appropriate. Asking about what to wear eliminates the problem of showing up in a pair of jeans when everyone else is dressed up, or arriving in a suit when the others are dressed in casual attire.

When you are invited to Thanksgiving dinner it is always a nice gesture to write a thank you note.

Question:

When invited to someone's house for Thanksgiving dinner, what is the best way to let the hostess know that you want to watch the game?

Answer:

Usually the best way is to be direct, yet tactful.

Often, the hostess has spent days preparing the meal and inviting guests for dinner. Her idea of Thanksgiving and yours may be totally different. She says,

"Please join us for Thanksgiving dinner." You think, "Great! Food and football. What could be better!" She may want to enjoy a leisurely meal and visit. You may want to get the meal over with as quickly as possible so that you can get to the big screen TV.

Understanding both points of view is important.

Let the hostess know that you want to watch the game. If the hostess indicates that watching the game is going to interfere with the plans for the day you may want to consider one of the following:

1. Accept the invitation knowing there will be no game.

2. Accept the invitation, but ask if she would mind if you quietly slipped out after the meal so that you can watch the game elsewhere.

3. Decline the invitation.

This way you have respected the hostess' wishes that there will be no TV and you have a choice as to handle a potentially uncomfortable situation.

Linda Lou Moore of Paragould is trained and certified by the Protocol School of Washington, Washington, D.C. She offers customized individual and group etiquette programs for children, teens and adults. She may be reached at Post Office Box 145, Paragould, AR 72315 or at manners@grnco.net

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