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Didi’s Manners & Etiquette: Thanksgiving Fêtes

Tuesday, November 25, 2014


Photo Credit: iStock

Many thanks for all the Thanksgiving etiquette questions to Didi Lorillard this week. From questions about rugged lumbersexual boyfriends and first time Thanksgiving dinner guests manners to what gift to bring and what to pack, you will be well-prepared.

Home for The Holidays with The Hipster Boyfriend

How do I politely ask my sweet lumbersexual boyfriend to shave his beard for Thanksgiving? My conservative urban parents don't like the hipster look. They would rather he did not arrive in a woodsman's jacket (that is actually a Barbour) with a knapsack and appear at the Thanksgiving dinner table in a plaid shirt and woolen hat.

Without the hat, his scruffy hair is hard to explain. He spends more time than I do in front of the mirror grooming his hair, including trimming his beard. My dad, grandfather and my sixteen-year-old brother will all be in a tie and jacket.  

~Elizabeth, Brooklyn

Why don't the older generations understand why the aesthetics of the effeminate metrosexual and the urban ruggedness of the lumbersexual are wonderfully appealing? Tell your hipster boyfriend you want him to make a compromise and trim his face and head way down so he doesn't have to wear a hat.

In return, he does not have to wear a tie and jacket. He may not like the idea of being a metrojack for Thanksgiving, but he really cannot wear a hat at the dinner table.  


Thanksgiving with the Grandparents

My mother-in-law is keen on manners. As my parents did not celebrate Thanksgiving, I want to be sure my children are prepared for a formal dinner. They are 7 and 10.  What pointers can you give us, so we don't make any blunders?  

~Tina, Seattle

As the meal consists of many courses, timing is important. You want to be punctual. Not only do you arrive on time in your nicest clothes, but with a hostess token gift in hand. Ahead of time, ask your mother-in-law, "What can we bring?" If she says nothing, then take her flowers.  If there is a chocolate shop in your area, bring a box of fresh chocolates for her to open after dinner or keep for themselves, and a chocolate turkey for each child to reward them for being good guests. 

Not only do you want to be self-sustaining guests, but helpful guests.  Ask several times, "What can I do to help?" Unless your mother-in-law encourages you to start eating, wait for everyone to be seated at the table before digging in, after opening the napkin and laying it across the lap to catch crumbs. Beforehand, you would rehearse eating with a knife, fork, and spoon. Thanksgiving is not the time to teach table manners, it is a time to reward those good manners with thanks. 

Help with clearing the table and the washing up until your in-laws insist that you've done enough and that your family should go home.  


First Time Thanksgiving Guest 

What do I bring to my fiancée's parents for Thanksgiving dinner? It is the first time I'm having Thanksgiving at their home.  

~Sam, Providence

Find out from your fiancée what kind of flowers his mother likes and what colors. If you order the flowers ahead of time, ask your fiancée the name of her mother's favorite florist. As for her dad, walking in with a bottle of Macallan Single Malt  Scotch Whisky, shows you know about special occasion drinks. Not sure about hard liquor? Then a bottle (or two) of French wine, such as a Rhone Syrah goes well with turkey.  


Thanksgiving Country Weekend Dress Code 

What do I pack for a long Thanksgiving country weekend? My fiancé's family have a hunting lodge where we're going Thanksgiving weekend. I won't hunt, but I will tag along. As a city girl, I'm not one for puffy jackets or pea coats. Do you have any suggestions?  

~City Girl Gone Hunting, Manhattan

What we love is the Belstaff look and functionality.  An attractive melding of tradition and modernity. There is nothing more authentically cool and classic than the whole Belstaff style from top to boots.

Go to belstaff.com and click on women's outerwear where you will find warm, water resistant long jackets that are the big trend in women and men's outerwear. For wintery country weekends to come, start by looking for these women's jackets:

CT Master Coat in Resin

CT Master Coat in Resin Coated Twill

Sheffield Jacket

Ella Parka Coat (because of the bright orange detail)

The Unionjack Trailmaster in Waxed Cotton

Scroll down under the outerwear to find ideas to complete the look -- which include sweaters, boots, trousers and jeans. 


Do you have a dilemma about love, family and life in general for Didi? Go ahead and "Ask Didi."  If your Question is used, we can withhold your name and/or location. 


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