From cooking stress to tense conversations to full-on blowouts, many situations can derail a Thanksgiving dinner. But there are ways to keep things peaceful and light, as well. We asked etiquette experts to share some common rude behaviors at big holiday gatherings like Thanksgiving, and advice for avoiding them.
Even if you did RSVP for yourself, that doesn’t cover guests unless explicitly discussed, so avoid arriving with an uninvited plus one. There may not be enough seats, food or place settings to accommodate unexpected additions, so you put your host in a tough spot.
“If you’re going over to someone else’s house for Thanksgiving festivities, make sure you know the schedule of events and plan accordingly,” Smith said. “Sometimes people invite you for noon and they’re not serving dinner until 4. Plan so there isn’t too much together time. Don’t be rude, but if you know that you’re walking into a difficult situation, it might be best to be acceptably late ― or leave on the early side.”
“Family and friends all put together in one spot like this often means a clash in personalities, religious beliefs, politics and unsolicited opinions on every subject,” said August Abbott, an etiquette expert with JustAnswer. “The usual rule to insist on no discussions of religion or politics is hard to enforce, but enforce it you must. Even if everyone is of the same political preference, just talking about ‘the other side’ raises blood pressures and angst. This is not what the day is about.”
“Do not encourage, laugh or agree with something you find reprehensible,” Smith said. “A prolonged look before a topic change can speak volumes. Excusing yourself from the table to ‘visit’ the restroom and text a friend can help to keep you sane.”
“You do not owe anyone an answer regarding your weight, your romantic status or your politics,” Smith said. “Know your triggers and strategize in advance. If you are single, you know relatives are going to ask about a significant other. Have a stock answer ready to respond and move the conversation along ― ‘Oh, Aunt Tilly, you know I love to play the field. Hey, did you hear about my latest trip? I am just back from Prague. You would not believe what I saw.’”
“We’ve all had those guests who won’t leave the kitchen and won’t stop telling you how wrong you’re doing pretty much everything with the food,” Abbott said. “Actually invite them to taste and give their opinions. When they’re done, thank them and usher them back out of the kitchen with the promise you’ll tend to their suggestions.”
“If you know the host is not going to be respectful of your dietary restrictions, eat in advance so you are not starving and bring something you know you can eat as a side dish to share,” Smith said.
“Make conversation with new people,” Gottsman said. “If there are dinner guests you aren’t familiar with, make it a point to speak to them and get to know them rather than sticking to those you see and speak to every day. It’s polite to mix and mingle with new friends.”
This content was originally published here.