Friday, November 22, 2013

THANKSGIVING: DON'T BE A TURKEY

And we're off and running. The holiday season kicks off next week with Thanksgiving. Some of us will spend the most time we've ever spent all year round in our kitchens basting, chopping, stirring and hoping that it all turns out well. We thought we'd whip up some dos and don'ts for both hosts and guests.

For hosts...
  • Do be honest, if a guest asks what should they bring, tell them. Nothing worse than seeing your supply of wine and champagne dwindle, sparkling cider just isn't the same.
  • Be ready to receive guests, they shouldn't see you sweating over the bird. Don't make them feel compelled to help out with the dinner - they came to eat, not prepare.
  • Try not to give a blow by blow of the dinner's preparation. e.g. "I made the stuffing at midnight! I got up at the crack of dawn to boil the sweet potatoes." There is an excellent book, Timing Is Everything by Jack Piccolo.
  • Speaking of timing, if you've asked guests to come at five o'clock don't make them wait until seven o'clock to eat.
  • Do plan a balanced, well rounded menu. You want your guests to have enough food, but ten different things to eat could turn into a mishmosh of mismatched flavors and actually begin to look like mush on a plate.
  • Let guests eat in peace. No need to keep asking them if they need anything.
  • Be gracious when your cooking is complimented. No one will know you left out the thyme unless you tell them.
  • If you discover that someone is a vegan, don't make a big deal out of it. They'll know to skip the macaroni and cheese.
  • When it's time to clear the table, try not to enlist the help of every guest at the table. And don't disappear into the kitchen to wash the dishes. This looks like you're trying to get a leg up on things. That's rude. (If you have a small kitchen, loading the dishwasher is okay but don't run it.)
  • Toast your guests, thank them for being part of the day.
  • Try not to yawn in front of your company. This may look like you're bored or sleepy.

For guests...
  • Don't be late. There is no excuse.
  • Even if your hosts said they don't need anything, take a bottle of something or a small gift.
  • If you've offered to bring a dessert, bring dessert not a platter of deviled eggs as a surprise.
  • We like flowers but if you're being hosted by someone who's doing all the work, consider an arrangement so that they won't have to stop and tend to the flowers.
  • Offer to help but don't barge into the kitchen and start doing things.
  • Don't just grab a seat at the table, your host may have a seating plan.
  • Before the meal, wash your hands without making a general announcement.
  • Turn off your cellphone.
  • Don't talk about how much you love dressing with oysters when there is no oyster dressing on the table.
  • Let your host know in advance if you have dietary restrictions. Don't talk about your diet and how you're being a bad girl as you butter your second roll.
  • Dress appropriately, not every day is a jeans day.
  • If you have a lonely friend with no place to go, don't invite them along hoping that your host will understand. Your friend will only feel lonelier when there's no seat for him/her at the table.
  • Give thanks and toast your hosts.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

I hadn't gotten your blog for quite some time; this was great!

Anonymous said...

I just caught up on your blogs...they're so great, and helpful.
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Anonymous said...

Ladies,

Your post for Thanksgiving hosts and guests is right on the mark, with all bases covered. As someone who has hosted for many years, you cover virtually everything that I do as a host and yes, timing is everything.

For laughs, when I'm in the kitchen, I usually wear my FDNY T-shirt that on the back reads, "Stand Back 200 feet". It helps to create some humor and puts people in a yet a more festive mood. One guy asked if he should go out and get a fire extinguisher, which made everyone laugh. When things in the kitchen are nearing completion, I slip away and get changed. At that time, we're ready to serve.

Since we Americans are of various religious traditions or may not have one, I propose a toast that includes thanking everyone for sharing the day and then giving thanks to this land of ours that offers us so much. Some then offer their own toasts, which brings about a very nice communal feeling.

One other thing. I feel that it's fine to have the football games on as it's part of the day, but whatever you do, make sure the sound is OFF. Most people just check the scores as they're too busy eating and conversing to sit in front of the tube.

This year, I'm a guest and will keep your list of guest suggestions handy.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Richard

Jennifer said...

Yvonne and Yvette it is indeed heartening to witness a real guide to being "civil" and gracious. Today, so many know so little about either of the two.

It's especially great to know people - some of whom believe "they know" and thus commit the "sins of ignorance and arrogance" - will be able to self-correct through your very worthwile vehicle. Congrats!!

About Me said...

I will pay attention as my sister and law's guest for Thanksgiving Diner.

About Me said...

I will follow your suggestions as a Thanksgiving Dinner guest of my sister in law.

Anonymous said...

Greetings, Y & Y:
Love it! Especially the one about slaving over the dinner and sharing all of the details. Boring. Not good conversation in my opinion.