Unfortunately, McDonald’s isn’t offering Turkey
McNuggets this Thanksgiving.

So, let’s take this time to stop and actually enjoy the planning, preparing and sharing of a meal with friends and family this Holiday season.

Whether you are hosting the meal or you are the lucky guest enjoying a home cooked meal that has been prepared by someone else, there are a few gentle reminders we need to think about before the big day.

Leave you cell phone in the car, purse or pocket turned off! You want the people around you to feel as though they are the most important people in your life right now. Do not be distracted by your phone, it can wait.

When you know that you are going to be sitting down together for a meal be prepared with things to talk about. Work on a short list of two to three items that you can be prepared to discuss. I like to use the acronym F-O-R-M. Ask about: Family, Organizations that they are a part of, Recreation-what they like to do for fun or their Motivation- what inspires them each day. Please stay away from politics, religion, gossip and illnesses or troubles. Come to the event with a positive attitude, do not plan to just sit and be entertained. Keeping an interesting
conversation going is hard work. Don’t place that burden on the shoulders of
others, do your part.
If you will be the guest in someone else’s home please bring a small gift. It doesn’t have to be elaborate, just thoughtful. If you would like to present yourself in the best light have flowers sent to the host a few days before the dinner, with a lovely note of anticipation. You can bring wine, chocolates, a dessert to share later, candle sticks, monogramed tea towels or coasters. Something special, I like to bring a basket of scones and jams wrapped in monogramed napkins that they can enjoy the following morning.

If you have children take the time before hand to explain to them
your expectations. Do NOT just toss them into the setting and expect them to behave they have no idea what is expected or what to expect. Explain who will be there, what the day will be like and how they are to behave. You can add some
positive reinforcement by rewarding them at the end of the day for meeting all
of your expectations. That way if at some point over the course of the day they slip, you can whisper to them (the name of the toy or item that they wanted). I know this may seem like bribery but sometimes that’s what it takes to have a Norman Rockwell Thanksgiving.

Teach and encourage your children to shake each persons hand and
introduce themselves. There is nothing so wonderful as having a child or
teenager offer their hand in greeting! At a very young age make the
introduction for them and then encourage them to extend their hand. Remember,
social protocol. Use the older person’s name first and women before men. “Aunt
Dottie I would like to introduce you to my son Robert. Robert this is Aunt Dottie she is Dad’s sister.”   I always tell my students to look at the other person’s eyes and offer a big smile. If you can walk away and remember Aunt Dottie has blue eyes then you did a great job.

When you sit down to the meal immediately place your napkin on your lap, elbows off the table and wait for the cue from the host or hostess to begin the meal.

A few reminders about table manners:

Does the crowded table make it hard to tell which bread plate is yours or which glasses belong to you? Remember this guideline – BMW – the Bread plate is on the left, your Meal (or plate) is in the middle and your Water (or glasses) are on the right.

If you are confused about which utensil to use remember the “outside- in” rule. Use the utensils farthest away from the plate and work your way in towards the plate. If all else fails take a sip of your water and watch what everyone else is doing then do the same.

Once food is on the table, wait to start eating until the last person has been served and the host or hostess begins eating or tells you to go ahead.

When buttering your bread, take some butter from the butter dish and put it on your bread plate, not directly onto your bread. Then, tear off a small piece of the bread and butter just that piece. Continue eating and buttering a small piece at a

If someone asks for the salt, pass both the salt and pepper. Salt and pepper are like a happily married couple, they are always together, so don’t separate them even if someone just wants the salt.

Food is always passed to the right.

Take small bites, coming to a meal is really not about the food it is about the conversation and company. With a small bite you are never far away from partaking in conversation. You know a bite is too large if you have to hold up your finger in a “Just one minute” gesture while you continue to chew and swallow. 

No comments on the food unless it is to complement the chef, if there is something you don’t like, do not comment just enjoy everything else.

You will know when the meal is over when the host(ess) puts his or her napkin on the table. Do the same. Place you utensils on your plate, do not push it away. Place your napkin slightly folded up to the left of your plate or where your plate was.
Never put it on your plate.

Follow up the next day or two with a phone call telling the host how much you enjoyed the day; it is also lovely to send a written thank you note, thanking them for a wonderful day.

Do not forget your social graces as well. Remember to use your “please,” and “thank you.” Be sure to complement the hostess on the delicious food. Most of all remember to be thankful for the bountiful meal on the table and the wonderful family and friends sharing with you.

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"Manners are a sensitive awareness of others.  if you have that awareness, you have good manners, no matter what fork you use."

-Emily Post

American author on etiquette

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