Thanksgiving Cheer by Pexels

For many U.S. Americans Thanksgiving is their favorite holiday – the day is centered around family, feasting, and football. This week in November holds the record as the busiest time to travel in the U.S. If you are visiting, living, or working in the U.S., don’t let this holiday be a mystery. It’s a time of gratitude! When planning to celebrate Thanksgiving with family, partners, friends and acquaintances, keep in mind these six tips:

  1. Know U.S. Thanksgiving history & customs: The origins of Thanksgiving date back to 1620, when a small ship called the Mayflower left Plymouth, England. After months of sailing toward an unknown destination, the British reached land and started their own colony as Pilgrims. Even though most of the 102 passengers that left England on that September evening survived the hardships to arrive in the New World, only 66 original passengers survived their first winter in this new land.                                                                                                                                         The autumn tradition of giving thanks continued for centuries.In 1863 President Abraham Lincoln declared it a November holiday. In 1939, Franklin D. Roosevelt looked to increase retail sales during the Great Depression, so he proposed moving Thanksgiving closer to Christmas. Many were opposed; which lead him to sign a  bill declaring Thanksgiving an annual national holiday on the fourth Thursday in November.
  1. Book flights, hotels and car rentals & save booking confirmations: Make your travel plans during the summer to save cash and avoid unpleasant traveling experiences like overbooked flights. Consider traveling a few days before Thanksgiving and a few days after to avoid peak travel days. Save travel confirmations.
  2. Avoid booking flights on a Tuesday: During any other week of the year, Tuesdays are the best days to fly. However, according to RewardExpert, an online service helping people benefit when traveling, the Tuesdays before and after Thanksgiving are the worst travel days because price increases and delays are more common.
  3. Pre-Plan the Thanksgiving Feast: If you’re hosting Thanksgiving dinner, plan in October.
    • Make a guest list: Reduce stress as a host by making a guest list. Then invite by telephone, email or in person – receiving a Thanksgiving dinner invitation is always a treat! RSVPs provide insight into attendance and shopping needs.
    • Choose a menu: If serving a traditional meal, consider catering to all tastes and dietary needs. Ask guests about gluten, dairy, seafood, and tree nut allergies. Include vegan dishes.
    • Write the grocery list: With RSVPs complete, shop and organize ingredients a week before to avoid long lines or an emergency grocery store visit.
  1. Organize Activities:
    • Plan for board or card games for indoor activities
    • Be sure sports equipment like soccer and footballs are in good shape
    • Do or schedule yard maintenance for the weekend prior to remove leaves
    • Clean out the garage which may be needed with rain or snow.
  1. Conversation Starters:
    • With your co-host, make a list of excellent dinner table topics such as pets, sports, vacations, new books, and recent movies.
    • Have conversation topics such as “How about those Longhorns?” “Have you seen “A Star is Born?” in the event that politics or religion are mentioned.
    • Graciously pull unruly guests to the side privately when asking them to refrain from inflammatory comments.

7. Say Thanks: As a final tip, pause to say thanks for the blessings that family and friends have shared with you.

Holiday Dining by Pixabay


Sharon Schweitzer and Sophie Echeverry co-wrote this post. Sharon Schweitzer, J.D., is a cross-cultural trainer, modern manners expert, and the founder of Access to Culture. In addition to her accreditation in intercultural management from the HOFSTEDE Centre and the Intercultural Communication Institute, she serves as a Chinese Ceremonial Dining Etiquette Specialist in the documentary series Confucius was a Foodie, on Nat Geo People. She is the resident etiquette expert on two popular lifestyle shows: ABC Tampa Bay’s Morning Blend and CBS Austin’s We Are Austin. She is regularly quoted by BBC Capital, Investor’s Business Daily, and Fortune. Her Amazon #1 Best Selling book in International Business, Access to Asia: Your Multicultural Business Guide, now in its third printing, was named to Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books of 2015. She’s a winner of the British Airways International Trade Award at the 2016 Greater Austin Business Awards and the 2017 New York City Big Book Award for Multicultural Nonfiction.

Sophie Echeverry is the corporate marketing manager and event coordinator at Access to Culture. Born and raised in Colombia, she’s a 2018 graduate with a B.B.A. in International Business and Marketing from Hult International Business School in San Francisco, CA. Connect with her on LinkedIn.