If you’re feeling particularly challenged this Thanksgiving, don’t despair. Grab onto goodness with all of your might. The world is watching and it responds in kind.  Take comfort in the fact that you are not alone. Virtually everyone is facing one type of challenge or other. It may be dealing with the loss of a home or a loved one or taking care of a child or significant other who is battling a mental or physical health illness. Any feeling of overwhelm can be easily overcome through connection and a kind word.  When we are grateful, good things we thought impossible, suddenly materialize. Find ways to volunteer your time, your money or your resources. If you enjoy hosting, open your home. If you are a guest, wear your most important accessory – your smile. The grace and generosity you bestow during one of the most beloved holidays of the year will come back in spades.  Here are our top 5 etiquette tips to enjoying a most grateful and gracious Thanksgiving this year and always.

1. Set the tone with a warm and welcoming scene. To create those cozy feelings we associate with Thanksgiving start by setting a warm and welcoming scene.  Begin with good lighting to give everyone a soft glow. Ask Alexa to play some soothing background music. Break out your wedding china (when else are you gonna use it?). Match it with hand-made placemats designed by your kids. Select fresh blooms from your garden to give it an especially organic feel. A beautifully appointed table makes the food taste so much better.  You’ll relish in the oohs and aahs as your guests enter your home.
2. Put extra oomph into your food presentation.  Thanksgiving is the Super Bowl of food holidays. People diet for weeks in advance just to partake in an endless buffet of delectable savories and sweets.  Regardless of whether you slave over the stove making every last item on your menu days in advance or place a call to your favorite take-out restaurant for a fancy spread you can serve on the fly, everyone appreciates piles of food placed neatly on eye-pleasing platters. Toss the cans of cranberry sauce before your guests arrive. Scoop the stuffing from containers into porcelain covered bowls.  Forgo the plastic ware and paper plates in favor of real dishes and utensils. Have each item set on the table along with its designated serving piece.  

3. Keep the atmosphere light and breezy. It is a well-known fact that laughter is the best remedy for any difficulty. If we can lighten the mood and find the silly during even the darkest times, it allows us to not take life so darn seriously.  Lord knows we can’t control the curve balls so we may as well embrace the circumstances with a few coping mechanisms. Put on a funny holiday movie, crack a joke or encourage a spontaneous game of charades. Any of these are guaranteed to bring the crew together and hopefully make everyone forget their troubles (at least for a while).
4. Connect with compliments and nice questions. Strike up a conversation with a loved one or friend by opening with a compliment. It doesn’t have to be anything earth-shattering, but it should be authentic. When we are truly present for one another it is easy to find something sweet to say that will make the other person feel good and loved during this time of year. Keep the conversation going with a few nice (not nosy) questions and actively listen to the answers. Sometimes people just want to be heard.  A sincere interest goes a very long way in building and sustaining a good relationship. 

5. There is no better attitude than that of gratitude. We must find a way to give thanks at Thanksgiving. Big or small – it doesn’t matter.  Being invited to someone’s home or hosting a Thanksgiving meal is a blessing. Sharing the holiday with older relatives who are healthy and well is a blessing. Surrounding yourself with supportive friends and family is a blessing. You never know what the future holds so cherish each moment together, appreciate each other and concentrate on the positive. Finally, before you gorge yourself with the Thanksgiving feast, go around the table and say one thing you are thankful for and maybe even one nice thing to each person at the table. This will bring instant connection and love to everyone in the room and isn’t that all we really want anyway?