Thanksgiving Etiquette

This article is part of our 2019 Holiday Entertaining Series sponsored by Roots Catering

Thanksgiving is a wonderful time. Thanksgiving can also be a stressful time. Family dynamics and hosting responsibilities can sometime be hard and daunting, but it can all be made easier with some planning and preparation. Below are some quick thanksgiving etiquette tips to help solve even the most challenging Thanksgiving issues.

Picky Eaters

  • If a guest is a picky eater it’s nice to cook something you know they will/can eat, but it’s also okay for you to tell them they are welcome to bring their favorite dish to share.
  • If you’re going to someone’s house for dinner and one of your family members has food issues, tell your host ahead of time and then also offer to bring something for him/her to eat so the host doesn’t have to worry.

Unruly Kids

  • If you’re hosting kids who seem to run wild in your home, set up a special place for them to be entertained. Depending on ages, buy activity books, games and fun things to do, and also have a holiday movie ready to play.
  • If your kids are the problem, share expectations with them and practice with them ahead of time such as polite greeting skills, proper table manners, and what it means to be a polite guest and have nice thanksgiving etiquette. Set reward and consequences for good/bad behavior as well.

Lazy Guests

  • If you’re hosting and you’d like help, don’t feel bad about asking your guests to do certain things for you like setting the table, taking out the garbage, pouring drinks, carving the turkey. 
  • If you’re a guest in someone’s home, be sure to offer to bring food and/or drinks, and then to help once you’re there.

Dining Dilemmas

  • Not sure how to set the table? See the illustration above. Not sure what you’re supposed to do before, during and after a meal to have nice thanksgiving etiquette? Click HERE for tips for adults, and click HERE for tips for kids.
  • If you’re worried your guests will bring their cell phones to the dinner table, put out (or pass around) a basket that has a sign saying something like, “I’m thankful for the family and friends here today so please leave your cell in the basket so we can be present with one another.”

Family Drama

  • If you’re worried that there could be a political debate or some contentious issue raised during the day together, individually tell (in person, over the phone, and/or in a text) ahead of time, that you would greatly appreciate it if they not bring up the subject. If an “issue” does get brought up, vey quickly shut it down by nicely saying, “Let’s not talk about this today and just enjoy being together”. Then quickly change the subject. 
  • If you have family members whom you know should not sit next to each other, make place cards and put them on the table beforehand.

I wish you and yours a happy and stress-free Thanksgiving!

This series is brought to you by Roots Catering, which provides the community with locally-sourced, handcrafted catering for any event. Led by Executive Chef Craig Barbour, who with his experienced crew can specialize any menu for any occasion. From weddings, to social gathering and corporate events to everything in between, the Roots Catering team goes above and beyond to create and execute an unforgettable experience.


Aimee Symington
Aimee is the CEO of Finesse Worldwide, and an etiquette expert with almost 20 year's experience teaching etiquette to adults and children throughout North America, Europe and Asia. Aimee has appeared on NBC’s The Today Show, and she regularly shares her etiquette advice on Charlotte Today, Fox News, and WBTV, on radio programs such as NPR, and in newspapers and national magazines such as Good Housekeeping and Woman's Health. Ms. Symington is also the creator of the award-winning, nationally acclaimed products on manners for children called “Blunders®” and “Manner Mats®” For more etiquette tips for adults and children, please visit her website at Connect on Facebook.