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Thanksgiving Guest Etiquette 101

When you're not hosting, being a better guest should be your top priority. You do want to get invited back next year, right?

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The Best Guest

Let's state the obvious: Hosting Thanksgiving is tough. And when the day comes for you to show up at a neighbor's, friend's or distant cousin's Thanksgiving Day party, it's a good time to re-evaluate what it means to be a guest in someone's home, especially when you're the one plunged into decades of familial inside jokes and eye rolls aimed at Uncle Jerry. Here's everything you need to remember to be a tiptop guest.

By Ben Mims for Food Network Kitchen

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Bring Something — Even If Your Host Insists It's Not Necessary

If you're asked to bring something specific, bring that and only that. Thanksgiving is simply not the time to improvise with off-beat flavor combinations or out-of-place dishes. If your host insists that you “just bring yourself!” don't listen (he or she might even be testing you). No matter what the occasion, but especially at Thanksgiving, a gift is a thoughtful gesture. Offer to bring a bottle of wine, your favorite craft beer, or a small wheel of nice cheese with a sleeve of fancy crackers.

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Make 1 Dish to Feed Them All

These days, people aren't shy about what they won't eat — some are gluten-free, others vegan and even more have specific preferences you might not readily expect. As a guest, it's a great idea (and a great way to make friends) to make a dish that anyone can eat. Often, you're safe with virtually any vegetable, like green beans, carrots, cauliflower, broccoli or sweet potatoes. Cut them small, roast at 400 degrees F until caramelized and tender, then toss with a fresh vinaigrette made with olive oil, vinegar, minced shallots and herbs. This dish is vegan, carb-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, not spicy, not fatty, not gas-inducing and totally tasty enough for the meat eaters. You'll receive praise from everyone who's been dying for a fresh vegetable at Thanksgiving since green bean casserole took charge of the buffet.

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Turn Your Dish Into Twice the Gift

Toting food in a disposable foil container is a thoughtful way to ensure that your Thanksgiving offering doesn't also mean more cleanup for your host. But an exceptional guest will bring food baked or served in a brand-new dish that can be given to the host. Once the food is gone and the dishes are cleaned, your host will have a brand-new casserole dish, ceramic bowl or cake stand that reminds him or her of you.

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