Skip to main content
Thanksgiving

How to Be a Good Thanksgiving Guest

Make the host’s life easier.
By Published Nov. 10, 2022

What’s the best thing about Thanksgiving? The food? The family? The friends? 

Everything that makes the holidays great can also make it stressful, for the host and the guests. 

If you’re concerned about what to cook, when to arrive, or what to buy, imagine how the host feels. A bit of effort and forethought on the guest’s end can make Thanksgiving dinner that much better. 

Here are some small things you can do to ensure you’re being the best guest possible (and making your host’s life a little easier). 

Sign up for The Thanksgiving Success Series

Be Thanksgiving-ready with the help of the Test Kitchen experts.

1. If You Bring a Dish, Choose Wisely

Ask the host what dish to bring if you’re unsure. If youre bringing a dish without a specific assignment, bring something that can be served at room temperature. Dont bring something that requires fridge space or the oven (or ask if the host has a toaster oven). 

Fret not, its still possible to bring something interesting and memorable! Here are some examples:

2. Come Prepared

Bring everything you need for the dish you brought: serving utensils, serving dish, even a reusable container to store leftovers. And while you’re at it, bring an extra bag or two of ice in a cooler. You can never have too much ice.

3. Respect Requests

If the host tells you not to bring any food, dont bring any food. There are many reasons why they may not want you to bring a dish to pass—it could disrupt their carefully-planned menu, they could be concerned about allergies, or they just have too much food as it is. Bring a gift or a bottle of wine instead.

4. Bring a Small Gift

If you know you’re not bringing a dish (and even if you are!), consider bringing a small gift for the host. Another great idea for a thoughtful, non-intrusive item? A non-alcoholic cocktail or spirit. We’ve tasted a wide variety and theyre a great conversation starter.

5. Be on Time (But Not Early)

A lot of planning goes into preparing one’s home and the meal. Do your best to respect your host’s time. They’re probably rushing around until the very last minute; they don’t want to entertain you any earlier than they agreed to. If they ask you to be there at 3 p.m., don’t get there at 2:30.

6. Help Clean Up

If you stay until the end, offer to help the host clean up a little before you go. Simply picking up extra cups, taking out the trash, and washing dishes will make the host’s life easier. Even better, recruit a fellow guest to help you. That way, your host can enjoy the party.

Photo credit: Foxys_forest_manufacture via Getty Images