Etiquette expert Diane Gottsman manner-splains the thinking behind good holiday behavior.
Credit: © John Kernick

The holidays are a wonderful time filled with family, friends, delicious food, and let's face it, some inevitable tension and awkwardness. Whether you're at your in-laws' house, hosting your own turkey day feast, or having a huge friendsgiving party, here's how to be the most gracious host or guest this year according to etiquette expert Diane Gottsman.

Chill Out

The most important role of a good host is to make the guests comfortable. If you're uptight and stressed, guests feel it. If you want to be relaxed, you need to plan your Thanksgiving menu ahead of time. Don't hesitate to delegate tasks — have someone chop onions while you mash potatoes — and don't forget a great Thanksgiving playlist to dance along to! 

Be a Polite Guest

We all need to sing for our supper. A good guest makes hosts glad they invited you. Arrive on time, with a gift, and make pleasant, interesting conversation with other guests. Stuck on what to get your host? It doesn't have to be anything expensive or elaborate, and we put together a host gift guide to help you find the perfect token of appreciation.

Keep Special Requests in Mind

A good host will accommodate guests' food needs within reason: There's a difference between an allergy and watching calories. A guest with a self-imposed restriction should bring a dish of their own, with enough to share. However, if you're working around special diets or food restrictions, we have dairy-free Thanksgiving recipes, gluten-free Thanksgiving recipes, vegetarian Thanksgiving recipes, vegan Thanksgiving recipesdiabetic Thanksgiving recipes, and even more delicious meal ideas to help you navigate.