Does "Don't Bring Anything" Really Mean Don’t Bring Anything?

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Playing Mister Manners: What Do Hosts Actually Mean When They Tell You Not To Bring Anything?
Mister Manners: What Do Hosts Actually Mean When They Tell You Not To Bring Anything? Aired November 08, 2018

The holiday season is upon us, and we’re willing to bet those invitations to festive parties and special dinners are rolling in. That said, it’s time to brush up on some holiday etiquette to ensure you’re a welcomed guest!

A viewer named Jessica from Mastic, New York, called on etiquette expert (he edited the anthology Modern Manners: The Thinking Person’s Guide to Social Graces) Thomas Farley, known as Mister Manners, to solve her Thanksgiving dinner dilemma.

Q: I’m going to my boyfriend’s parents this Thanksgiving, and they’ve told me not to bring anything. Are they saying that to be nice or do they really mean it? Is it ever ok to show up empty handed? — Jessica R.

A: According to Thomas, guests should pay close attention to the two types of "don’t bring anything."

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“I’m a believer that you should never show up empty-handed. But, if a host is insistent that you don’t bring anything, that’s a clear sign that you should not bring a dish,” Thomas says.

"There's a difference between 'Oh no I think we're ok, just bring yourself,' and 'please don’t bring anything, I’ve got it taken care of!'"

Thomas explains that hosts can be very territorial about their Thanksgiving dinner and might not want to put out a dish that doesn’t go with the rest of their meal. Instead, show up with a gift of appreciation.

"Maybe a bottle of wine or champagne which is for them to enjoy as a reward for the wonderful job they’ve done,” Thomas suggests. “And never underestimate the power of a nice beautiful card with a message inside that expresses your gratitude."

RELATED: The Best Host + Hostess Gifts Ideas From Rachael That Aren't Wine or Flowers

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