"Manners are a sensitive awareness to the feelings of others.
If you have that awareness, it doesn't matter what fork you use."
The holidays are upon us! Here in Vermont we've just had our first snow, which is definitely getting us in the holiday spirit. For many of us it's that fun but frantic time of year, packed with family, friends, celebrations and, inevitably, etiquette questions! The focus of this newsletter is Thanksgiving with helpful etiquette tips for setting the table, serving the meal, and some ideas for handling some of those tricky situations that come up, such as game or no game during dinner, or how to redirect a conversation that's devolving into an argument.
While it may be difficult to shift gears with the election just behind us, Thanksgiving is an opportunity to regroup and count our many blessings. It's a time to reach out, to include, to share, and to contribute. Make room for one more at your table, offer to bring a dish or do the dishes, say, "Yes, thank you!" to the person who offers to bring the sweet potatoes (with the marshmallows!) or wants to help carve the turkey.
As always, we encourage you to write in with your thoughts and questions to make this newsletter exactly what you want it to be! You can submit your question or comment to
. We look forward to hearing from you!
From our house to yours, we wish you a very happy Thanksgiving!
Holiday Etiquette Help HOTLINE
The Emily Post Institute has partnered with Bob Evans to bring you Holiday Help From the Farm! This holiday season if you have a question about entertaining (how to set a holiday table, handling extra guests or food allergies, or managing difficult table conversations) there are a few ways to get the help you need:
Bob Evans Holiday Helpline: (855) 4MY-TABLE
For live etiquette and entertaining help from one of the Bob Evans trained experts, the Bob Evans Holiday Helpline will be open:
November 24, 9:00 AM - 7:00 PM
November 25 (THANKSGIVING), 9:00 AM - 1:00 PM
December 23, 9:00 AM - 7:00 PM
December 24 (CHRISTMAS EVE), 9:00 AM - 1:00 PM
December 30, 9:00 AM - 7:00 PM
December 31, (NEW YEAR'S EVE), 9:00 AM - 1:00 PM
Bob Evans Holiday Help from the Farm website:
For tips and tricks for hosting a welcoming and warm holiday meal, guests can visit the Bob Evans Holiday Help from the Farm website.
When the Bob Evans Holiday Helpline is not open, guests can submit questions to the Bob Evans' social media channels. The questions will be answered by trained experts with a focus on Bob Evans values of hospitality, family and togetherness.
The holidays are the biggest party season of the year. You and your fiance love to throw parties, but lately, there's been a problem: guests who overstay their welcome. What are some subtle and not-so-subtle hints to let your guests know the party is over?
- Vegan wedding conflict.
- Baby shower RSVP issues.
- Responding to customers who suffer a loss.
- Cancel the party?
- Housewarming etiquette.
- Good Samaritan salute.
Awesome Etiquette wants to hear from you!
BUSINESS ETIQUETTE FOR PROFESSIONALS E-LEARNING PROGRAM
- Have you ever wondered how you should answer the phone at work?
- Do you get butterflies at the thought of attending a business mixer?
- Are you unsure when to talk business at a business meal?
- Do you know someone who could use a business etiquette brush up?
We're inviting you to take our updated and expanded
Business Etiquette for Professionals
E-Learning program. We've put our best into refining, improving, and expanding our flagship program, and we're excited to share it with you!
Over the course of 12 lessons, you'll learn why your business etiquette skills can make you an asset to your company. You'll discover how the three principles of etiquette and the five-step method for solving problems create a foundation for you to know what to do when there is no specific manner. You'll get trusted advice on topics such as written communications, phone etiquette, workplace manners, professional image, social media, dining etiquette, and much more. Please join us!
Thanksgiving Day Table Setting
Tricia Post shows how she sets our family's Thanksgiving Day table.
Check out this video and more from our Etiquette Bites series here:
THE WELL MANNERED WEDDING ARCHIVE
Read Peggy Post's thoughts on today's most nuanced wedding dilemmas in the archive of her
New York Times
Thanksgiving Day Etiquette Tips
Thanksgiving Hosting Tips
- Delegate! This is one holiday where most guests offer to pitch in. (Well, maybe not when it's time to do the dishes!) The trick is to have something in mind when a guest asks, "How can I help?" Here's a list of little tasks that can be a big help. Starred ones are suitable for kids.
- *Take coats and hats
- *Pass hors d'oeuvres
- Help set up the buffet
- *Fill water glasses
- *Light candles
- *Put butter, condiments on the table
- Pour wine
- *Clear the table
- Help serve dessert, coffee
- Say grace or give a toast. If you have a large group, once three people are seated invite them to begin eating, "Please start while it's hot!" Then, when all are at the table, pause to say grace or propose a toast.
- Whether it's politics or a long-standing argument between siblings, holiday meals aren't immune to fireworks. Be prepared to redirect a conversation that's getting too ugly. "Seth, I'd love to get away from politics (medical history, romantic drama, financial woes) and hear about..." Plan ahead and have a few "go to" topics in mind if you need to change the subject. Here are some fairly safe ones:
- A vacation planned or taken: "When are you heading to ....?"
- Movies: "Have you been to the movies lately?"
- Sports: "How 'bout those Cubs!"
- Their kids: "Is Deena still playing soccer?"
- New restaurants, cooking, recipes: "Who brought this amazing pie?"
Keep redirecting, if necessary, and if it doesn't work, it's okay to say, "We're finished talking politics at the table." Then turn and talk to the person on your other side.
"Where do I sit?"
- Thank your guests. Thank each guest for coming and for any contributions they made to the meal or help with set up or clean up. Thank them again the next day with a follow-up call or email.
At any holiday meal, you'll want to give the seating plan some thought. And it's a good idea to make your plan ahead of time, not when your first guest is heading to the table with a full plate of food. Your goal is to organize congenial groupings so that conversation flows. Here are some simple strategies:
- If you have a big group, draw a diagram and pencil in names.
- You can rely on the classic plan, which puts the host(s) at the end(s) of the table and then alternate boy/girl. Don't worry if you don't come out "even." Some people like to separate spouses, the theory being that they'd like to talk to other people.
- If you have a guest of honor, he or she sits to the right of host.
- Skip the boy/girl plan and focus on grouping together people who have common interests or who haven't seen each other in a while and want a chance to catch up.
- Make sure that guests sit next to or near someone they know or are comfortable with: your daughter's college friend near your daughter, your four-year old niece next to her mom or dad.
- Seat people who don't get along or who are likely to get into a heated argument at opposite ends of the table.
- Have place cards: They are really useful and don't have to be fancy. In fact, this is a great project for kids: blank cards, stickers, seasonal decorations, markers, and a list of names will keep them occupied and contributing.
Kids' Table, Yes or No?
In some families it's a long-held tradition, and graduating to "the grown-up table" is a rite of passage. Putting all the kids together gives them a chance to get to know cousins and not be subject to grown-up conversation. It also allows them to be excused from the meal as a group. Others like to have the children sprinkled in with the adults and be a part of the generational mix. It helps reinforce the sense of special occasion and gives kids the opportunity to step up their table manners. It can also remind adults to be on their best behavior, too, and keep conversation geared to "General Audiences."
When you are the host and a guest throws a curve ball, do you best to keep your cool and your good humor while solving the problem.
- A guest brings a dog
- Pets can be a problem not just because of allergies, but they can be underfoot and pose a tripping hazard, especially for elders.
- If it's okay with you, then no worries. It's fine to ask your guest to keep an eye on his dog.
- If it's not okay, then is outside or containing the dog in another room or part of the house an option? If feasible, could the guest take the dog home?
- A guest brings an extra guest or guests
- Welcome them enthusiastically! This season is all about inclusiveness, so make room for the extras. If you're worried about having enough food, then give family the signal "FHB - family hold back" - or plate the food so you can apportion it evenly.
- A guest announces (as you are carving the turkey) "By the way, I'm gluten free/vegan/vegetarian."
- Ask what their requirements are and then identify "safe" dishes. If none are safe, offer to do the best you can with what you have on hand in your fridge and pantry.
Screen time vs. Dinner time As the host, it's up to you to make the call regarding the game or phones and cameras at the table. If football is not your main course, then take control of the remote and TiVo the game: "Hey, everyone, the game will be waiting at the end of dinner. Let's all come to the table and spend the next hour together." And the cell phone? "Take your pictures now everyone." Give guests the opportunity to take photos of the food, table, plates, each other, then say, "Phones off and away, please."
IDEAS ON PINTEREST | Visit our boards. Get inspired.
Thanksgiving is here! Get inspired by our Thanksgiving Pinterest board to get ideas for your holiday table. And check out all our
boards for ideas and inspiration in your home!
EMILY POST & ETIQUETTE IN THE NEWS
Please visit our contact page to reach us, or you can find us on Facebook and Twitter. We love hearing from you, so feel free to post to our social media and join in the conversation. We may not always be able to respond, but we read every question and comment. From our family to yours we hope you have a wonderful month! As always, thank you for your continued interest in etiquette and The Emily Post Institute.