We asked the experts.
When it comes to holiday entertaining, it can seem like with each additional place setting comes a new etiquette conundrum. What to do about tardy guests? An drop-in visitor? Crude conversation and sensitive subjects? Hopefully your gathering won’t take any sour turns—it is a day to gather, give thanks, and fill your plate, after all. (Should be pretty straightforward, right?)
But nevertheless, setting the tone for the day falls to the hostess and etiquette must be considered. Not that it’s always easy—or clear-cut. Here, we’ve asked a few experts throughout the South to give us their take on one such quandary—is it tacky to ask guests to BYOB to Thanksgiving? There are plenty of reasons for doing such; here are a few ideas on if that’s a good idea and how to do so:
Erika Preval (Atlanta, Georgia): It Depends.
“There are times when etiquette isn’t one size fits all. This is definitely an occasion where the rules are situational and you have to know your audience. Traditionally, for formal dinners the expectation is that the host will provide food and drink. Guests won’t come empty-handed, of course. Some will ask what they can bring to assist with meal planning while others will opt to bring a small gift for the host," Erika says.
"If your Thanksgiving meal is more of a potluck or casual Friendsgiving, then it would be perfectly fine to ask that guests bring an adult beverage to share in lieu of food dishes. In the spirit of the holiday, the emphasis should be on 'to share.' We wouldn’t want the guest who brings Silver Oak to be upset watching others enjoy their bottle," she says. "If guests are staying to watch the big game, you might also consider having their libations be consumed during that time and not during the meal. That would help ease the costs of entertaining guests for a large portion of the day.”
Maria Everding (St. Louis, Missouri): Totally Tacky
“I can answer your question with one word — YES," Maria says. "It is tacky to ask someone to BYOB. Nothing more need be said. I make everything easy to remember and do!”
Diane Gottsman (San Antonio, Texas): Not Tacky!
“No, I do not think it is tacky to ask your Thanksgiving guests to BYOB if the event is an informal gathering of family and friends," Diane says. "Guests will often ask ‘What can I bring?’ and if the host desires, it’s the perfect opportunity to say, ‘I will be serving tea and a special cocktail. If you would like something specific, please BYOB.’…For a more formal affair, I would suggest the host provide the liquor. And, a guest should not forget to bring a hostess gift! (Perhaps a bottle of the host’s favorite spirit!)”