Thanksgiving is a special time where we give thanks for everything and everyone in our lives. Thanksgiving Day is a time set aside to gather together in gratitude and reverence for our blessings and to enjoy a portion of those blessings with a feast of food shared with our friends and family.

Most of us already have our “ways” of doing Thanksgiving — ways our mother did it, ways our extended family did it, ways our friends did it. What can you do to heighten, deepen, and extend Thanksgiving to its most memorable end? And how can you make sure you maintain etiquette both as a host or as a guest?

  • RSVP. Let your host know right away if you can come or not. If you received a “family” invitation, let your host or hostess know how many of you can come.

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  • Arrive on time. Yes, it is a day of feasting, but that turkey is going to be done at some point and your hosts are trying to plan around that magic moment. If you arrive late, don’t expect anyone to wait for you.
  • Offer to contribute to the meal — but don’t dictate the menu. Your best bet is to make your offer open-ended and follow your host’s direction. If you or your “party” have special dietary needs, it’s very gracious to offer to bring a dish that meets those needs.
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  • Seating Plan & Place Cards:  As the host, keep the cast of family, friends, distant relatives, neighbors, and old friends in line with a seating plan. Seat introverts next to out-going guests and elders adjacent to youngsters. It’s acceptable to split married couples but not newlyweds. Place cards may range from simple and handmade to fancy.

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  • Toasting:  As a host making a toast to the table, you can briefly reconfirm conversation no-no’s. Toasting etiquette states the entire table is welcome to drink. If you are toasted as a guest or host, do not raise your glass and drink. It’s like clapping for yourself. While clinking is fun, the preferred approach is to raise your glass, make eye contact and then take a sip. Finally, remember the three B’s of toasting: Begin, Be Brief and Be Seated.
  • Leftovers: Keep some cute packaging to give leftovers to your favorite guests. It will make them feel appreciated and make for a wonderful next day surprise!

Most of all, make sure to enjoy yourself and make your guests feel welcome and appreciated!