Editor's note: This is part of 20-40-60 etiquette's series this month featuring questions related to Thanksgiving and holiday family events. Go online to NewsOK.com/life for more information and to submit your own question.
Q: I do not like Thanksgiving and Christmas turkey and so the family hosts fix another meat, usually ham, for me. I always feel bad that I disclosed my dislike for the traditional bird, but I sure didn't expect everyone to cater to that taste. Should I tell them there is plenty of other foods I could eat and they don't have to cook a whole ham or a tenderloin?
CALLIE'S ANSWER: Why bring up that you don't like the turkey in the first place? If you don't like it I am sure there are PLENTY of other options. It is very nice of them to cook another meat for you. They must enjoy your company! I would suggest this year you bring your own meat.
LILLIE-BETH'S ANSWER: What a nice family you have! I understand your angst over mentioning that to family members in the first place, especially since they altered their Thanksgiving menu because of it. I don't see any problem with trying to backpedal and tell them not to worry about your tastes because there are so many other dishes that you DO like. They may or may not agree — it sounds like both you and your family members want to make everyone happy, which is the perfect way to enjoy a Thanksgiving Day meal, whether you're having turkey or turkey and ham.
HELEN'S ANSWER: Please don't feel bad that you don't like turkey. That is your personal preference. Most of your family members know that fact about you and will lovingly try to fix you something you might like. Accept that gesture from family members, and if different meat is not available, then load up on vegetables and dessert. Or you could offer to bring your own meat. There may be others who prefer ham or beef too.
GUEST'S ANSWER: Richard Rosser, author of “Piggy Nation”: In this day and age of vegans, pescatarians and gluten-free, most cooks are happy to accommodate special dietary needs. However, given that you just don't like turkey, I suggest one of three options: 1) Suck it up and eat everything except the turkey. 2) Bring an alternate meat dish from home and heat it in the microwave. 3) Offer to host Thanksgiving dinner yourself and fix whatever you want. If you choose option 1 or 2, consider bringing dessert or a bottle of wine for your gracious host!
Q: How do you determine who sits at the kids' table? At what age should one be considered of age to sit with the grown-ups?
CALLIE'S ANSWER: Go with the flow or roll with the punches, as my mom says. Having a party at your house is stressful, but you have to let it go at some point. Set up the right amount of tables/chairs for everyone to fit and decide as a group if you prefer to have a kids' table. No need to set an age for who is or isn't at the kids' table. In the end, it's about being together. It should all work out.
LILLIE-BETH'S ANSWER: I think this depends on the breakdown of the family and the space at the kids' table, which may be unfortunate for the older child. One year, my mom put my oldest son at the adults' table and sat at the kids' table herself with the younger grandchildren. I think it ended up being a treat for both my son and her.
But, typically, you have a certain number of seats at the adult table and a certain number at what could end up being designated the “kids' table,” and it's up to the hostess to determine the breakdown. But if that means one teen might end up sitting with the toddlers and one with the adults, you could always mix up kids and adults so all the generations can enjoy the different ages together.
HELEN'S ANSWER: Maybe 10 and under could be at the children's table. If the children are very small, then a parent should probably be with them or the table should close enough to the adults' table so the small children know their parents are nearby.
One holiday at our house, the children's table was the most fun. The children decorated the table for the meal, put out party favors that entertained them for 20 minutes and chose all the foods for their table. One “fun” adult was the host for the table.
If children are seated at the adult table (10 and older), or any table, they need to use good manners. An adult can set the rules before the meal begins. A simple, “let's all try our best to be polite today by …” (whatever rules you want to apply here).
GUEST'S ANSWER: Mary Hicks Reynolds, book author: Have everyone in the family agree on a certain age (anyone 12 and younger sits at the kids' table), OR don't have a special table but seat adults on either side of each child, OR simply move the kids' table to the end of the “adult” table so they feel included instead of like chopped liver, OR have everyone stand and mill about while grazing and nibbling.
The important thing is to be creative and enjoy the meal and fellowship. Memories are made of these approaches, for good and ill.
Callie Gordon is 20-something, Lillie-Beth Brinkman is in her 40s, and social columnist Helen Ford Wallace is 60-plus. To ask an etiquette question, email firstname.lastname@example.org. For more 20-40-60 etiquette, go to blog.newsok.com/partiesextra.