By Cassandra Reinhart, Special to the Indy
Thanksgiving is a great time to show off your host or hostess skills but at the same time the magnitude of entertaining a large group of people can become a little overwhelming. We asked Dana Point Etiquette School founder and certified etiquette consultant Naomi Torre for some holiday entertaining tips to make your turkey day less stressful.
LB Indy: Holiday meals usually mean a lot of food is on the table and there are a lot of guests. Things can get crowded. How can a meal be tastefully served without going the buffet-on-the-kitchen-counter route?
NT: “A lot depends on the configuration of the home. It seems to me with six people and a lot of food you would want to deliver the food in courses, because most homes are not set up for a lot of people. That eliminates congestion that may be on the table. An elder person or head of the family traditionally cuts the meat and serves it in front of guests at the table.”
LB Indy: If you are an invited guest to someone’s home for the holiday, what do you bring?
NT: Families know each other, and usually they have gone through this before. Hopefully they know to bring something for the hostess. By asking, “what can I bring?” or “should I bring a salad or a side dish?” you take the pressure off the host to do all of the work themselves. If they tell you not to bring anything, a bottle of wine is appropriate.
LB Indy: Thanksgiving can mean a sink heaped full of dirty dishes. What is your take on using disposable paper and plastic for the big meal?
NT: If you have it, you should always bring out your “Sunday best” servers, china, dinnerware, etc. for a holiday meal. Plastic ware and paper plates can be used for the children’s table or if you want to be decoratively more creative.
LB Indy: Any other tips?
NT: Festive decorations show you have put a lot of time and effort into pleasing your guests. It’s nice to hear people say “this is gorgeous!” and shows you put forth more effort than usual. Use name cards so that people know where they are sitting. Part of being a good host or hostess will be sure to know who will make good tablemates
sitting next to each other.
LB Indy: So you’re saying don’t sit a Democrat next to a Republican this year?
NT: (Laughs) “Yes, you may want to be careful of that.”