Every family has their own quirks. By now, you not only know what your own family's eccentricities are, but they are probably so ingrained within you that you don't even realize they're idiosyncratic. That's part of what makes spending the holidays with your family so fun: you know them and you love them. But when you're spending Thanksgiving with someone else's family, you don't have the benefit of knowing exactly what kind of craziness you're walking in to.
Maybe you're spending the holiday with your in-laws for the fourth time; maybe you're tagging along with a best friend; or maybe you're going to your SO's family's place for the first time. No matter who you're going with, having Thanksgiving with a different family is a little uncomfortable and potentially stressful. Knowing how to be a polite guest and how to survive the madness is the only thing that's going to get you through. Here's 9 ways to survive it.
The Same Goes For The Food
If you're a vegetarian and there's no tofurkey on the spread, don't make a fuss about it. You don't want to make your hosts feel bad. Enjoy the side dishes — they're the best part anway.
If the food is bad, please, do not say so. Not even a whisper to the friend or partner you came with. Insulting your host is the number one way to not get an invite back the following year and to leave a really bad taste in their mouths. So even if there is a physical bad taste in your mouth, don't say it. If anyone asks why you're being so peckish, just tell them you overdid it on the appetizers.
Offer To Help
Throughout the day, keep checking in with your host to see if he or she needs any assistance. Just because you ask once doesn't mean you're done for the day — Thanksgiving is a labor intensive holiday, and tasks come up intermittently. Help with food, setting the table, or wrangling the kids for dinnertime.
Sometimes, it's even better to just do it instead of asking first. When the host starts to clear the plates, just stand up and begin doing the same. It's the thought that counts, and chances are he or she will tell you to sit down and enjoy yourself. This is especially true if you're really hoping to make a good impression on the family (aka it's your SO's parents).
Find A Reason To Have Some Alone Time
Visiting with someone else's family can get exhausting. It's important to have a reason to take a breather from being "on" and get a moment to yourself. When you feel you need a respite from the festivities, tell everyone you're going to step outside and call your own family. Even if you aren't actually making the call, it gives you a legitimate reason to get some fresh air and a chance to take a deep breath.
Say Thank You
This should go without saying, but make sure you thank your host for having you to their home celebrate the holiday. Chances are it was a stressful day for them, and it is very kind that they asked you to be a part of it.
You can even take it one step further and send a thank you note — email or snail mail will do just fine — after the holiday, thanking them again for hosting you. It's a classy move, and it will show them that you really are grateful for the invite. Surefire way to get invited again next year.