GiGi’s Top 10s for Graceful Living

FAM0000A099Come Lord Jesus, be our guest. Let this food to us be blessed. Amen.

With Thanksgiving fast approaching, now is a great time to brush up on holiday etiquette. My Top 10 Tips will get your started!

1. Have your children participate. Let them plan the Thanksgiving holiday and help decorate, set the table, and shop for food.

2. Hosting 101: The secret to entertaining with ease is to plan, plan, plan… and anticipate, anticipate, anticipate! From the menu to sprucing up your front lawn, a guest truly feels special when they notice that you made a special effort for them. Count out your place settings and pull them out in advance. Prep ahead of time so that you can relax and enjoy your guests. As the old saying goes, “Guests want a hostess, not a ghostess.”

3. Good Guest Basics: If you are invited to someone’s Thanksgiving dinner, R.S.V.P. in a timely manner with a head count. Don’t ask to invite someone else. Clue your children in on basic table manners and tell them not to explore the host’s home (including the refrigerator) without permission.

2013-Autumn-Subway-Art4. Basic dining manners: Common mistakes are putting a used utensil back on the table instead of on the plate, picking up any item that has fallen to the floor, and using fingers instead of a knife or piece of bread to get your food onto a fork. Children should keep a napkin on their lap throughout the meal.

5. Role-play: Make manners fun by anticipating your child’s challenges and making a little game of it. For example, many children feel awkward when being introduced to new people. If your children are young enough, have them practice introductions with a teddy bear, then graduate to practicing with you. This can take five minutes. Encourage them to ask at least one question to begin a conversation. Teach them appropriate and inappropriate questions.

6. Hostess gifts: A gift can be as simple as holiday napkins. Two main things to ask yourself when selecting a hostess gift are: 1.) Food is not a hostess gift. And remember that your super duper family recipe is inappropriate here, unless preplanned by you and the hostess. 2.) Is the gift something that they would really use?

7. Sit down dinners: Wait for the host or hostess to take the first bite. You don’t want to be nibbling when everyone else’s heads are bowed to say a blessing.

8. Taste a bit of everything: Etiquette books state that it is fine to refuse certain foods at the table. But the common practice here in the south is to try a little of everything. Encourage your child not to say, “Ewww, I don’t like this.” Establish how they should handle foods they dislike before attending the event.

9. Offer to help: As a guest, remember to help clean after the meal.

10. Thanksgiving is a time of thankfulness: Remember to verbally thank all participants, including your own family members. Then write a family thank you note afterwards for the hosts. Optional: Slip in a snapshot of the day. If you want to know more about how to write a powerful thank you note, contact me at

From my home to yours, have a blessed and safe holiday season.