The day before the great turkey feast and I am hearing left and right from former Cotillion girls and friends of chickens far and wide concerning holiday behavior. Questions range from shrimp forks to boyfriends home for the holidays for the first time. What’s a girl to do? Easy peasey, little ones. Here’s some lessons.
Tips if you are the guest:
Bring a small gift for the hostess. Your hostess knows you are an indentured servant of Sallie Mae, so do not spend a great deal of money. Even a card is lovely. Just some sort of “I’m so glad to be included.” Of course, if your mother is going with, she no doubt has already taken care of this so you’re off the hook!
Tell the hostess how lovely/festive her home is. Hostesses never tire of this. You won’t when it’s your house either. She’s been cleaning all week, cooking like a crazy woman and she spent last night drinking wine and taxing her brain over place cards. Let her know her work was not for naught.
Speaking of place cards. Beware. If your hostess went to the trouble, sit where she put you. You were placed there for a specific reason. Maybe you’re the only one who can handle Aunt Tilly after she’s had one too many nips. Perhaps you know how to keep Grandma’s off color comments quiet. Or you have a knack with little ones. Move cards at your own peril. Don’t believe for a second she won’t notice. It will go into the rolodex of her head and next year, you’ll be at the card table.
Ask your hostess how you can help. Fill the goblets. Light the candles. Dry the dishes. There’s plenty to do. At your own house you can be the home from college boss. BTW–don’t miss SNL’s Back Home Baller video for reference. Spot on college girls, spot on. No breaks if you’re in someone else’s home.
If you drink too much. Get a hold of yourself, and quickly. Hopefully, it’s family and your cousin is just as bad. If you end up the one to barf in the bathroom or yell out something inappropriate, an apology is in order both to your hostess and your mother. She raised you better than that. Save it for the frat house.
Dinner itself. Is it buffet or sit down? If it’s sit down, hopefully there’s enough people gathered round no one plate checks. A little morsel of everything saves hurt feelings. At a buffet, it’s easier to take only what you like depending on your table companions. Remember, work the silver from the outside in. If there’s a shrimp fork, it’s probably cajun Thanksgiving. Lucky you. Follow your hostess. Nobody begins until she lifts her fork. Follow her lead on grace and when to be seated.
If you/your family is the host:
Help your mother. Your dad is probably watching football. She needs to feel appreciated.
Clean your room. You never know who will take a peek at the house. Your mother keeps that room in tip top shape when your gone. For one day, you can too.
Brought your new cutie home for the fam to meet? Family that’s not yours can be overwhelming. Take care to make sure he/she is okay. Pay attention. You’re comfortable but he’s/she’s not. All these strange people and grandma drinking beer from a bottle can be disconcerting. Besides, he/she probably misses home. Be aware. Make your brothers and sisters be nice. PS: Do not slip down the hall after everyone goes to bed. Bad form dolls, bad form.
If you’re at his/her house. It’s hard to be away from home. Go with the flow as The Norwegian would say. Do what they do. You can gossip about them with your sister later. Watch carefully–can you deal with this on a forever basis? These are the clues, my dolls.
Check on your mom again. She’s getting frantic. All the guests are here and turkey isn’t ready. Get her another glass of wine and tell her everyone is simply gasping over her beautiful tables. “Really?” she’ll say. “Oh that makes me so happy.”
There you go. She raised you well didn’t she?
Send a thank you note to your hostess, even if that hostess happens to be your mom or grandma. The surprise will bring tears to her eyes and she won’t even care about the mess you left behind.