Most people aren't used to going to a lot of dinner parties these days. The idea of dressing up and going to a loved one's home for a meal is a vintage one, right up there with poodle skirts and sock hops. But there is one day a year where you have to dust off your social skills and be a gracious guest: Thanksgiving.
If you're not used to being in pleasant company or you're going to enter a situation that's mildly uncomfortable, you need to know how to behave yourself this holiday season. There are a lot of secrets to being the best party guest ever, and most of them just amount to basic human decency. That means you should arrive on time with a small gift and with no unexpected guests. But it also means that you should know when to help, when to step back and how to stay in your lane. It sounds hard, but it's really quite easy.
But no matter if you're going to a family member's home or a friend's house this Thanksgiving, be sure that you are kind and don't make these coming Thanksgiving guest mistakes.
RSVPing Late (or Not at All)
Listen, sometimes you wait until the last minute to book Thanksgiving travel. No judgment! But if you're invited to someone's home for the holiday, it's important to RSVP as soon as possible. Thanksgiving is a meal, after all, so your host needs to know how much turkey to buy and how many table settings they need. RSVPing at the last minute or, you know, just showing up without asking is a major mistake.
Forgetting to Divulge Allergies or Dietary Needs
When you RSVP (on time!), be sure to share any dietary restrictions or allergies with your host. Are you on the keto diet? Are you vegetarian? Are you allergic to gluten? Thanksgiving is full of allergens and meat, so be sure to be honest with your host so they prepare something special for you to enjoy.
Not Asking If You Should Bring a Side
Cooking an entire Thanksgiving feast is a lot of work. Help your host out and bring along a side dish. Of course, you shouldn't just show up with a pot full of mashed potatoes. Ask your host how you can help and know that some sides can easily be made in advance and transported!
Want to know one of the ways you're being a terrible party guest? Showing up without a small gift for your host. Bring along a small seasonal gift, like a wreath or a candle or a festive bottle of wine to serve with dinner. A little token of appreciation can go a long way.
Arriving Super Early (or Late)
If your host asks you to arrive at 5 p.m., make it your business to be there around 5 p.m. If you show up at 4, they may still be in the throes of making dinner. If you get there at 6:30, you may miss your meal! Either is not ideal, so just be on time.
Bringing an Unannounced Plus-One
The only thing worse than arriving empty-handed or arriving late is arriving with a surprise someone. Yes, we know you're smitten with your brand-new boyfriend and we feel bad for your co-worker who was going to be alone on Thanksgiving. But if you're bringing someone with you, clear it with your host before you show up.
Not Asking to Help in the Kitchen
Like we said, cooking up a whole Thanksgiving dinner isn't easy. So if your host didn't ask you to bring anything (or even if they did), you should still be sure you ask to assist them in the kitchen. Even if you just set a timer or grab a box of chicken stock out of the fridge, you're doing more than you think you are.
Crowding the Kitchen
But just because you're helping out your host in the kitchen doesn't mean you need to be a backseat chef. Don't criticize their knife skills, don't start salting the stuffing without being asked and definitely don't touch the turkey. Give your host space and let them lead you in the kitchen.
Ruling the Remote
Thanksgiving is almost just as much about TV as it is about family and food. From parades to the dog show to football, there is a lot of special programming on for this holiday. Don't change the channel without asking your fellow guests and definitely don't override everyone and turn on the big game when your family wants to watch the Charlie Brown Thanksgiving special.
Dominating the Conversation
The television isn't the only thing that you shouldn't dominate on Thanksgiving. You want to keep the conversation light, flowing and equal among guests. While we're sure you're very fascinating, the other guests don't need to hear every detail of your life. Let others talk too! It's all a part of knowing how to make small talk like a pro.
Thanksgiving may seem like it's all about overindulgence. You stuff your face and you can fill your belly with delicious wines and pumpkin beers. But try to refrain from getting drunk on Thanksgiving. Nothing good can come from that.
Thanksgiving can be... a lot. You never know who you may be sitting next to at the table. But no matter what you do, don't start drama or family fights. Avoid divisive topics like politics, don't bring up past family scandals and dismiss any snide remarks just by walking away and being the bigger person. Holidays with the family don't have to be a battle.
Dining and Dashing
We get it. You want to head out to the mall and get a jump start on Black Friday shopping. If there's one secret shopping malls don't want you to know, it's that the best deals are not on Black Friday. So don't dine and dash - it's the ultimate rude action. Be sure to enjoy the company you're with for at least a little while after your meal.
Overstaying Your Welcome
But just because you shouldn't dine and dash, that doesn't mean you're in the clear to stay for as long as you want. If the coffee has been served and your welcoming host is looking a little sleepy, that means it's time to head out.
Taking Leftovers Home Without Asking
No holiday season is complete without a delicious leftover sandwich, but that doesn't mean all of that green bean casserole and stuffing that's left is free game. A gracious host will offer you some of their leftovers, so don't just grab a bowl of sweet potatoes and head out the door. But no matter what mistakes you may make as a guest this Halloween, it's nothing compared to the mistakes a Thanksgiving host can make.
More From The Active Times:
The Absolute Best Places to Spend Thanksgiving in the U.S.