Many of us will be heading to the homes of family and friends this Thanksgiving. And for those who have been going to the same place year after year, it is easy to become a bit lax when it comes to our mealtime etiquette.

In order to get you back on track this Thanksgiving, here are five etiquette tips that either very few ever follow (e.g., the salt-and-pepper-shaker rule) or are perhaps too shockingly obvious to remember.

Pass the salt and pepper together. Always.

Even if someone requests just the salt, you should pass along the salt AND the pepper, according to What's Cooking America. In doing so, place the shakers directly on the table as opposed to handing your fellow diner the requested seasonings. On a related note, you should avoid seasoning your food prior to tasting it.


The meal begins only when the host or hostess unfolds and places their napkin on their lap.

Another one from What's Cooking America: Do not sit down and immediately place your napkin on your lap. When the host or hostess does this, the meal has officially begun, and when they place their napkin on the table, the meal has ended. Upon finishing, place your napkin to the left of your plate. The Emily Post Institute also notes that it's proper to begin eating once the host/hostess simply gives the OK.

Cut only one piece of food at a time.

While you may be very excited to grab your fork and knife and dig in, the Emily Post Institute indicates that it is appropriate to cut only one piece at a time before bringing it to your lips: In other words, don't cut up an entire piece of turkey into separate bites before eating it. Cut your food "one bite at a time" — in small, manageable pieces, of course.


Don’t switch the place cards.

You might not love where you've been assigned to sit, but just deal with it. Remember that you're a guest in someone else's home, and your host or hostess has put a lot of work into the evening. Don't just disregard their seating arrangements and sit wherever you want.

Respect that the host trusts you in their home.

It might be very tempting to see what’s behind that closed door, take a peek in that antique desk drawer, or go snooping through cabinets and closets, but this is, somewhat obviously, very disrespectful to your host or hostess. And if you happen to break something, don’t hide it. Quietly explain the situation to your host and offer to pay for a repair.