Thanksgiving etiquette for staying at your friend’s house over break
Do you bring a gift?
You're beyond pumped for Thanksgiving. It's the first real vacation of the school year and it's time for a break. Sadly, you're not going to spend this holiday with your family. They live too far away and plane tickets are astronomically expensive. You're heading home with your roommate or college buddy. It sounds super fun, but then you realize you'll literally be spending all your time with another family. How are you supposed to act? What's the Thanksgiving etiquette? It can be totally nerve-wrecking and overwhelming so we're breaking it down.
Do you need to bring a gift?
If you're staying as a guest at your friend's place. It's not a bad idea to bring a little something with you. Obviously your friend's parents don't expect you to shell out the big bucks. We'd grab a nice bouquet, a small pumpkin or candle that fits the season. You could also go a different route and grab a box of cookies or a bottle of wine if you're of age. It's all about showing a little gratitude.
Do I need to cook?
Thanksgiving kitchens run a little differently in everyone's houses. We'd poke your head in early in the day and ask if there's anything you can do. Odds are, you'll be thanked and shooed away. You might have to do some minor chopping, but that's about it. Just offer. If you're not the cooking type, offer to make last minute runs to the store for forgotten ingredients.
On a side note, if you've got a food allergy, tell your host before you arrive. They'll need to check over what they're making for your allergy. We'd bring a little something you can snack on if you can't touch a Thanksgiving signature just to be on the safe side.
What can I do to help?
We'd offer to help clear the table and fill the dishwasher. Try to make yourself useful in small ways. If there are kids getting rowdy, take them into another room. Distract them with games or just hang out while they watch a movie.
Your friend and their parents will be running around all day. You probably won't have your buddy to hang with for most of the day. Don't depend on them to entertain you and introduce you to everyone. It can be really tough, but start up conversations with people. Try to integrate yourself into the party. Don't hog the spotlight, but contribute when it's appropriate.
How should I dress?
We'd check with the friend your coming home with, but you should definitely look nice. Thanksgiving is one of the rare holidays where dressing up is a good idea. The rest of the time, you can probably hang around in your pajamas or sweatpants.
What about table manners?
Thanksgiving can get fancy for some families. Some basic things to keep in mind: keep your napkin in your lap, your phone away from the table, and start with the utensils on the outside, like in Titanic. Don't start eating until everyone at the table is served and keep the conversation pleasant. You might not agree with the great-grandmother and her extreme views, but keep your thoughts to yourself.
You might be allowed to drink even if you're underage, but don't whatever you do, don't get drunk. Not only are you a guest at your friend's house, but they likely have extended family there too. Do everything you can to make a good impression and basically just follow what everyone else does.
Can I take a second for myself?
If you're spending the entire break at your friend's, it might get lonely. You'll want to call your family and you should. Excuse yourself early in the afternoon on Thanksgiving and give them a ring.
After the holiday, it might end up feeling like you're constantly in guest mode. Don't stop being courteous to your hosts, but it's okay to take a walk through the neighborhood if you need time alone. Hopefully once the rest of the guests leave, you'll get to hangout with your friend and really relax.