Survival Guide to Your “First” Thanksgiving Dinner as a couple

’Tis the season for holiday gatherings, family, food and cheer! This holiday season, whether you are dating, engaged or newlyweds, if you are spending this Thanksgiving with a special someone and this is your first holiday gathering as a couple, be prepared. It is acceptable to be a bit nervous if you are meeting new members of your partners family for the first time, or if you are revisiting them after some time apart. Maybe the last time you saw them was at the actual wedding, a year ago. Most importantly make sure that you are yourself and remember what the Thanksgiving holiday is all about and why you are spending this time with your partner and their family. In case you need a little help along the way, check out these tips and tools to help ease you into enjoying the Turkey day Traditions.

  1. Dress to impress – Holiday dinners typically start early afternoon and then continue on into the evening. It’s best to keep it dressy but appropriate for daytime attire. Keep in mind that most Thanksgiving dinners are attended by family members of all ages, so remember, keep it classy and dress a bit more conservative. A pretty dress, or a blouse and sweater set with a skirt are very appropriate.
  2. Be on time! – Never be late for such an important family dinner date. It reflects poorly on you especially if this is a first impression. If you are running behind, stuck in traffic or the green bean casserole still needs about 10 minutes of cooking, be courteous and give you hostess a polite telephone call informing them. No one wants to have cold turkey on your account.
  3. “What would you like me to bring?” – Always ask your host or hostess what they would like you to prepare or bring for the special occasion. If you are a master chef or have a specialty food that is tradition in your family, by all means suggest it to your host. If you are looking for a special recipe, check out Pinterest for thousands of fantastic ideas that will guarantee guests requests about where you found this delicious dish. If you’re not much of a cook, offer to bring things like Ice, bread or dinner drinks (wine/mixers). Do NOT come empty handed. It is impolite and you want to make the best impression possible.
  4. Banish all cellular/electronic devices from the dinner table! – Nothing says “I’m just not that interested in what you are saying” like texting or emailing during dinner time. This is the prime time when you get to learn more about your partner’s family, toast to the lovely hosts, and hear stories about past holiday gatherings. Make sure that you do not interrupt this time with your email notifications and text message alerts. If you must make time to take a call or email do so before or after dinner has been served.
  5. Get to know the family – It’s important that you express an interest in learning more about your partner’s family members and close friends. Make sure to have brief conversations with each person, young and old. Also remember to keep the conversation light and avoid heated topics such as politics.
  6. Give Thanks! Bring something for your Hosts – Bring something small to show a token of appreciation for your hosts. Typical hostess gifts are wine, candles, picture frames, coasters, or homemade sweets and treats. Wedding favors make fantastic holiday hostess gifts as well! Check out some of the festive ideas below:
  7. Follow up with Thanks – You want to make sure that you extend your gratitude again when the event is over, by sending a formal thank you letter to your hostess. It’s appropriate to send the thank you as soon as possible to be respectful to your hosts and thank them for their invitation and hospitality. If you need some help getting started, or if you are looking for the correct way to address the hosts, check out some helpful tips from Wedding Paper Divas and their article on “Thank You Card Etiquette”.