Top Ten Things Not to Do on Thanksgiving


The inspiration for this list is the fact that this week is Thanksgiving here in the US. There have been a number of Thanksgiving situations which I personally witnessed, and I thought it would be fun to capture them and provide ample warning for your occasion this year. If you have ever done any of these things, it might be a nice change to sit back and let others have center stage this year.

10 On Thanksgiving, do not try to prepare the perfect Turkey. If you do, at best you’ll have reason to dry. At worst, not only is this year’s turkey not perfect, it is the worst one ever. (Nothing like eating what resembles dry balsa wood huh, Chandler?)

9 On Thanksgiving, do not invite your cousin Tiny the WWF wrestling champ to your house for dinner. If you do, at best you’ll possibly get by with only a broken dining room chair. At worst, Tiny and your uncle Jim will continue the feud begun last year’s Thanksgiving dinner. (Who is going to clean up what looks like a movie bar fight scene in your living room, Cohen? Not to mention reviving Aunt Helen.)

8 On Thanksgiving, do not try out that experimental stuffing recipe on the family. If you do, at best you’ll have plenty left over. At worst, the family will feel cheated out of a traditional dinner. (Who started the food fight is not a question that needs an answer right now, Canyon. It is probably more important to get that stuff off the walls before it hardens.)

7 On Thanksgiving, do not think you can deep-fry your Turkey in the kitchen. If you do, at best your place will smell like an oil derrick for a month. At worst, the fire department will declare what’s left of your house and lot a hazardous waste site.(Who is going to cover the EPA bill for clean-up, Channing?)

6 On Thanksgiving, do not think it is a good idea to start serving mimosas at eleven o’clock. If you do, at best you’ll run out of Champaign before everyone is blitzed. At worse all your guests have lost interest in the dinner and are out in the yard trying to work off the Champaign with touch football. (Don’t worry, Cortez. Sooner or later they will be back for the leftovers.)

5 On Thanksgiving, do not try some unnatural seating configuration thinking it will liven the conversation. If you do, at best you won’t seat sworn enemies next to each other. At worst, since you now have strangers all having to talk to strangers the sound of crickets is deafening.(That magazine suggestion doesn’t seem all that good right now does it, Cord?)

4 On Thanksgiving, do not think everyone in the world would enjoy a tofu turkey. If you do, at best the polite ones will give it a try. At worst, you will wonder why all your guests are on the phone ordering Dominoes delivery. (The fact that you were looking out for everyone’s health doesn’t seem worthwhile now, Cable.)

3 On Thanksgiving, do not think because you hate pumpkin pie, everyone else does as well. If you do, at best your banana creme will be well received. At worst, the traditionalists will find an excuse to leave early so they can pick up a frozen Mrs. Smith’s pumpkin pie. (Hare to believe you only have one guest remaining isn’t it, Cacey?)

2 On Thanksgiving, do not think sharing leftovers is not expected. If you do, at best you’ll get some strange looks as people leave. At worst, your loudest relative will ask out loud, What? No leftovers to take home? (Maybe you should have put together some to go containers, Cadell. Well there is always next year if any return.)

1 On Thanksgiving, do not think you can turn off the football game. If you do, at best you’ll have some complaints. At worst, you will discover most of the guests in your bedroom watching the game anyway. (It is shocking that people want to watch a game even if it is the two worst teams playing. Right, Cadell?)


  1. Got a good laugh at all of them. I just can’t imagine anyone serving a tofu-turkey, ugh!

    1. I’ve had it happen, GP. Thanks 😀

  2. I’ve been ducking and dodging for the last week. All to no avail. Yesterday I got cornered by one of the denizens here at the marina. When asked what I was doing for Thanksgiving, my eyes darted left and right. Then I shighed. There was no escape.
    “Why, nothing,” I said with a phony smile upon my face.”
    “Good, then you’re having Thanksgiving with us.”
    “Thank you,” I said as I died inside.”
    I’m not good around people. I mean, I’m good, but I not good at talking with people. Unless I have a snootful. Then I don’t talk with, I lecture (thinking I’m informing) everyone within shouting distance.
    So anyway, at best, I’ll have a nice meal and get out of there soon thereafter. At worse, I’ll have to sit there and talk with very nice people who like me (why, I do not know) for at least an hour after the conclusion of the meal.

    1. I understand how it is. I used to accept invitations before I figured out how to answer the question, “What are you doing for Thanksgiving? ” A simple, “giving thanks,” does it. Most back away after an eye roll or two. You have to really want to be alone before exercising this Howard Hughes like response. Thanks for the laugh this morning, Andrew. 😀

  3. Gwen Plano · ·

    Great list, John. You are so right, football is as much a staple for Thanksgiving as pumpkin pie. 😀
    Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

    1. And to you and yours, Gwen. 😀

  4. Not sure I agree with #6. 😛 Been the victim of Tofurkey and an experimental stuffing. The latter was a lot more tolerable than the former. Seriously, I don’t like turkey to begin with, but adding tofu to it is simply cruel.

    Realizing how often Thanksgiving goes wrong for me just by reading this list. People have omitted the desserts and sides that I like because they forgot.

    1. I can see that. I always make what I like so that doesn’t happen. Thanks, Charles.

      1. Holidays are when I let others do the cooking. Figure I do it enough throughout the week.

      2. Then a note on the stove should do the trick.

      3. In the stove is just asking for trouble

  5. Great list, John. I am a traditionalist. There will be pie and it will be pumpkin.

    You might add, if you’re the Washington Redskins, do not open your gates 8 hours before kick-off so fans can start drinking and deep-frying turkeys while tailgating. I suspect that is not going to end well.

    1. Ha ha ha. Nothing like a good old fashioned crowd event fueled by eight hours of drinking. Thanks, Dan

  6. Great list, John! Number four was hilarious. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

    1. You as well, Jill. 😀

  7. We always have the perfect turkey – that’s because I don’t cook it – my husband does. I might add a number 11: Avoid contentious topics at the dinner table (Russians, Trump, the Clintons, uranium, and the Redskins)!

    1. H ha ha. Good one Noelle. Thank you. 😀

  8. Of course, WE will talk about all these things!

  9. That’s a great list, and I love the hints from your own life and experience that made it so personal. Nicely done !!

  10. My son is going to a Friendsgiving tomorrow – the host is a vegetarian, so told him to be prepared for tofurkey.

    1. The kids are amazing with their Friendsgivings. Our daughter has been doing them for almost ten years. There is a core group and add ons come and go.

  11. We usually get just enough that they all talk to each other. I can do my thing in peace that way. I should pick up a growler of my favorite beer to keep me company.

    1. A growler would be good. I’m forgoing my IPA’s for Stella Artois.

      1. Nobody seems to like my kind of beer, so there’s more for me. They can have some Coors Light or something.

      2. Carbonated defrost.

  12. Enjoy the Turkey with all the trimmings, guys! 😀 And don’t forget to lay in a good supply of the antacids! 😛

    1. Ha ha ha. Thanks, Jan

  13. This was a good laugh, John. Tofu turkey. 😅

    1. Looks like a turkey too.

      1. I see. Hopefully I’ll never taste. 🙂

  14. D.L Finn, Author · ·

    I think you may have saved me from doing a couple of these…lol! I would say a dry turkey (with lots of gravey) is better than a turkey that didn’t cook…turning on the oven seems to be a good idea, too:) Your list also reminded me I have to get a tofu turkey for my son! Thanks for the holiday laughs. Happy Thanksgiving!

    1. Thank you, DL. Happy Thanksgiving to you as well.

  15. Tee hee, John, it sounds just like my Christmas except for the pumpkin pie – I just can’t get used to the thought of such a thing.

    1. I know what you mean. We never have it.

    2. Pumpkin pie is one of my VERY favorite pies, you guys – any time, actually. I can’t even imagine a *real* Thanksgiving dinner without it (any more than most folks would forgo the TV football!) SO, despite this comment, John, I am very pleased to see #3 above.

      (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMORE dot com)
      ADD/EFD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder
      “It takes a village to transform a world!

      1. Thanks, Madelyn. 🙂

      2. Based on this strong recommendation, Madelyn, I am going to try to make one.

      3. You both have fun. I’ll be by the chocolate cake.

  16. Its such a big deal isn’t for you good folk, I hope your goes well John, after reading thru the potential horrors of the day I’m glad we don’t have such celebrations…..Christmas is bad enough though any sensible person here doesn’t cook anything on Christmas as its too hot…

    1. Ha ha ha. Thanks, Michael.

  17. I always lead with pumpkin pie and Mimosas!

    1. Good plan. Thanks, Audrey

  18. Perfect Top Ten list for this week, John. The one about deep-frying the turkey in the kitchen made me laugh out loud! Happy Thanksgiving.

    1. Thank you, Jan. 😀

  19. OMG, John, these are so true! I don’t prepare a turkey myself any more, I buy one already cooked or we have ham. Happy Thanksgiving!

  20. P.S Love the cartoon! Oh, are you cooking for Thanksgiving?

    1. Yes. We are having turkey breast, yukon gold and sweet potato casserole, french cut green bean and bacon casserole, stuffing and death by chocolate cake. My wife makes the cake. 😀

  21. Love it! 🙂 Sharing… xo

  22. EXCELLENT list – laughed and grimaced at the same time. I’d add one more: Don’t bring your mashed turnips. You may love them, but no one else will. :-0 Happy Thanksgiving!!! 🙂

    1. OMG. Mashed turnups. Clears the room. Thanks, Pamela.

  23. Another great list, John – I especially enjoyed the one about deep-fried turkey! I can’t imagine!

    1. Believe me it has happened.

  24. Love these, John! I think we can sum up by saying, Don’t do anything untraditional on Thanksgiving, right?!?

    1. That is a good summery, Debbie. 😀

  25. Ha! I guess you could be so “fast” in the kitchen that nobody knew you already had those to go containers filled before dinner. Just never admit that they contain Mrs Smith’s for the good guests and Banquet for the not so good ones. 😈
    And poor Tiny — uninvited… I guess that’s easier said if one doesn’t have to clean up after him. Have a terrific pre-turkey Tuesday, John. Hugs.

    1. Thank you, Teagan. Hugs.

  26. Have a fabulous thanksgiving, I wish we had it here, my American friend is feeling a bit homesick this week.

    1. I an imagine. Maybe she can get some sliced turkey at the deli and pretend.

  27. This was a fun read and had me laughing the whole time!

    1. I am so glad you enjoyed it, Luci. My blogging philosophy is to try and get folk to laugh. There is too much happening in the world that is not funny, so we should laugh while we can. I think since we both live in Texas we learned that a long time ago. Thank you for the visit and the comment.

      1. You’re welcome! Glad I found your blog.

    2. Pleas excuse me I referred to you as Luci. Totally my error, Laci. I won’t even blame auto correct. I owe you one.

      1. It happens, thank you for correcting it

      1. You’re welcome.

  28. Great list, John. I was the only cook and worked full-time so bought Mrs. Smith’s pumpkin pies, stuffing mix, potato flakes, canned cranberry sauce, and canned peas. I did roast a large turkey after defrosting it in my large microwave. I made gravy with the bagged parts of the turkey that were packed inside it. We invited one guest who was a friend of my children. Everyone enjoyed it. 😀 — Suzanne

    1. Sounds like a way to take the fuss out for sure. Thanks, Suzanne.

  29. Reblogged this on Musings on Life & Experience and commented:
    John W. Howell’s list of ten things not to do on Thanksgiving. You’ve been warned.

    1. Thank you, Suzanne.

  30. Thanks for the laugh, John, and Happy Thanksgiving. 🙂

    1. Happy Thanksgiving to you as well. Thank you for the visit. 😉

  31. Hope you had a great Thanksgiving Day, John. Thanks for the laughs. I hope there weren’t any fights this year.

    1. No everything was calm. We invited the police department to join us.

      1. How nice of you to invite them, John. That’s an idea I may steal when we have the family over for Christmas lunch. 😀

      2. Tell them to bring their guard dogs too.

      3. I’ve two of my own, but they can often go all soft when cheese is involved.

      4. Cheese does it for sure.

  32. This is hysterical and one I can really relate to since my daughter sneaked the tofu turkey home with me and i’m not the vegan!!

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