8 Tips for Being a Great Thanksgiving Guest

Thanksgiving Table
Photo: iStock
Good manners are a given on Thanksgiving Day, but here are eight other ways to make sure you get invited back next year.

Those that offer to host the culinary extravaganza that is Thanksgiving deserve some major props. It's a true test of patience, flexibility and, well, sanity. If you're fortunate enough to be playing the role of guest this year (that is, unless your host happens to be vying for a spot on Worst Cooks in America), take note—there are a few golden rules you're going to have to follow.

1. Don't show up empty-handed. That being said, always check in with your host first. They've probably been planning the menu for weeks and although your award-winning apple pie is no doubt delicious, they might already have the dessert situation under control. If your host says to “just bring yourself," opt for a bouquet of flowers, a bottle of wine (for them to enjoy later) or pretty napkins.

2. Show up on time. If you arrive before the indicated time, you're likely to find your host in a frenzied, frazzled state. They'll be trying to finish piecing things together while trying to play host too—can you say stressed? Show up late (outside the 20-30 minutes of wiggle room you're allowed) and you run the risk of coming off as rude. Moral of the story? Stick to the predetermined timeline.

3. Don't monopolize the kitchen. Whether you're bringing an appetizer, side dish or dessert, make sure it's ready and raring to go the minute you walk through the door. That means no prepping and definitely no oven time. That thing called a turkey—you know, the star of the whole Thanksgiving show—already has dibs. If your dish requires reheating (and ideally it won't) send it the way of the microwave. Homemade rolls, salads, or a crudité make great no-fuss sides.

4. Lend a hand. Offering to help on dishwashing duty is always appreciated (because the last thing anyone wants to do after that third piece of pie is wash up). You can also go the extra mile and offer to come earlier and help with setup and prep. If your host kindly declines, make yourself scarce (you don't want to mess with their culinary flow).

5. Bring your own serving dishes. Your host has gone through pains to pull together a delicious meal and you best believe the good china will be coming out. If you're bringing a starter, side dish or dessert, bring your own serving vessel (one less thing for your host to worry about) and make sure it's one you'd want on your Thanksgiving table.

6. Don't forget the tupperware. Leftovers are inevitable. Don't be ashamed of bringing your own to-go containers to take home a little bit of that Thanksgiving feast. Your host will likely be happy to get some of it off their hands and they don't have to worry about giving away (and getting back) all of their storage containers.

7. Remember to say "Thank you." A verbal expression of thanks is a must, but if you really want to win the award for guest of the year, send along a handwritten note.