Short and Sweet Thanksgiving Etiquette To Know

The holiday many look forward to (and some don’t) is just around the corner. We sit down with our families and delight in a delicious turkey dinner. And sometimes, we delight in it so much, we forget out manners. Do you have the proper Thanksgiving etiquette? 

Are manners and good etiquette important during family functions like Thanksgiving? Yes and No.

One can argue that they are important – you want to make everyone feel welcomed, easy going, and be charming to guests of all ages.

Others would argue that they aren’t important. “It’s just family after all!”. Do you really need to impress them? Or better yet as an argument, do you need ti impress people you only see sometimes?

I personally believe it’s important to have good etiquette and mannerisms all year round – regardless of who you are with. And today I’ll be sharing some important Thanksgiving etiquette tips to remember! Put them to good use and show off your new charming skills this holiday.


Thanksgiving Etiquette Tips

Bring a gift

Sure, the host may have everything they need, but it is customary to bring some sort of a gift with you. Choose simple yet graceful gifts such as desserts or wines. A bottle of wine or some sort of a beverage is always welcomed. If you’d like something smaller and more thoughtful, may I recommend a set of linens like these napkins? They’re always appreciated with me.

Don’t forget to wrap it up nicely! Use wine gift bags like this to make a good impression.





Arrive on time

Be a good sport and show up on time, even slightly before. 10-15 minutes before the time on the invitation is acceptable, just not any earlier than that. Have your directions and parking information sorted before you leave the house and make sure you are watching the traffic to see if there are any delays. If you are going to be late, kindly give the host a call and let them know ASAP.

That phone call will be much appreciated and saying you will be late is better than not saying it at all.


Dress appropriately 

If you know your whole family will show up to Thanksgiving in casual wear, then your outfit should be an elegant casual: a pair of jeans, however still a nice sweater top. and simple accessories. If you don’t know the dress code, always ask the host. They will be more than happy to give a suggestion.

For a more sophisticated casual look, check out my previous post on elegant sweater dresses to wear for Thanksgiving.



If this is your first time with a new family for Thanksgiving or you are attending a professional function, wear something smart casual: a simple dress and tights or a blazer/cardigan combination. Overdressed is always better than not dressed up at all.


Mind your table manners

It’s very easy to forget ones table manners when enjoying food with family and friends. But we shouldn’t make anyone else feel uncomfortable. That’s the whole point of good etiquette: it’s for the benefit of others. You are being mindful and respectful.

A few key points to remember about table manners:

  • You sit and eat when the host/hostess sits and eats
  • If someone asks for pepper or salt, always pass the pair together
  • Your cutlery should be held with the index finger on top, not like a pencil or pen
  • Napkins should be refolded lengthwise on the lap
  • Never chew with your mouth open
  • Likewise never speak whilst chewing
  • Elbows off the table

If you’d like more tips on dining etiquette, watch my favorite etiquette expert, William Hanson’s Youtube channel. He is the go to resource for all things etiquette and explains things in a very organized and easy to understand way.



Dinner conversations – do’s and don’ts

Do talk about pleasant topics. Maybe you have some good news to share or want to inquire about someone’s plans or successes. Do talk about how thankful and grateful you are for your family and friends. Do not talk about religion, health, or politics unless it’s something your family talks about often during meals like this. Some families don’t mind, but most of the time, topics like those can be uncomfortable.

If you must talk about those topics, save them for after the meal – perhaps during aperitifs or coffee.


Silence cell phones and put them away

Thanksgiving is a time of togetherness and that means having face to face conversations with respect and without distractions. You can put away your phone for a few hours. There is nothing pressing that needs your attention. Before you arrive at your destination, silence your phone and slip it into your purse or pocket. 

Absolutely do not check your phone at the dinner table. If you absolutely must check your phone (maybe you received an important call), kindly step into another room or outdoors to conduct the phone call. If you just need to text someone back (or if you simply must check social media), a discreet way to do so is excusing yourself to the restroom.

I know we’re all connected to our phones, but let’s not snub or “phub” people. Read more about phubbing here.


Offer to help clean up

Always extend an offer to help clean up after dinner. Don’t do so immediately – only when everyone else has gotten up and away from the table to do other things. Never rush anyone into “getting dinner over” by getting up and offering to help right away.

At the end of dinner, simply approach the host and offer once. If they don’t wish for your help, don’t press it. Just enjoy the company! There’s nothing more awkward than a guest offering to help six or seven times.


Saying thanks

Always give a genuine and warm “Thank you” to the host and the guests for their wonderful company and delicious meal. I personally choose to go up to everyone individually and shake their hand or give a hug with thanks. Then I send a lovely thank you card to the host as soon as I can.

Aim to send thank you cards 3-5 days after the meal and let them know how much you appreciate the meal and their company. 



Being a gracious and well mannered guest will leave you feeling wonderful about yourself and will help others think highly of you. Remember, you are building your personal brand at all times – with family, friends, acquaintances. It costs nothing to be a well mannered person and gives you an advantage in character.

I hope you enjoyed this short and sweet guide on perfecting your Thanksgiving etiquette!

Happy Thanksgiving!



Behind The Blog

The Petite Bijou is an online destination featuring wholesome yet sophisticated living and styling tips for women. The site is run by the family and friends of survivor, lifestyle influencer, and writer Mariam, who passed away in the summer of 2020.  Mariam also hosted The Bijou Show, a self help podcast.

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Leave a Comment


  1. Denise wrote:

    Well written. Lots of good tips. I look forward to reading other posts if yours.

    Posted 10.8.20 Reply