{“data”:[{“type”:”text”,”data”:{“text”:”_The Boston \”How\\-to\” is BDCwire’s weekly offering of insightful musings for shrewdly navigating and living in New England. This week we tackle the do’s and don’t of bringing friends home for Thanksgiving dinner with the family._\n”}},{“type”:”html”,”data”:{“text”:”“}},{“type”:”text”,”data”:{“text”:”Bringing friends home for Thanksgiving is charitable, considerate, and an opportunity to bond and make memories. It’s also stressful, a ton of pressure, and requires more planning than most people think. Guests are accustomed to their own holiday traditions: they expect the house to smell a certain way and they expect the mashed potatoes to be a certain consistency. Volunteering to tote a couple of West Coasters back to Jersey with me for Thanksgiving has made me realize that there are key things any holiday host needs to know about how to bring friends home for the holidays…and still be friends when the long weekend is over.\n\n”}},{“type”:”heading”,”data”:{“text”:”Figure Out Who/How Many People Are Coming Home With You ASAP\n\n”}},{“type”:”text”,”data”:{“text”:”This isn’t always in your control, but when possible, find out exactly who it is you’re bringing home with you. You essentially have to babysit this person; they don’t know where anything in your house is and chances are they haven’t had time to become familiar with your family yet. As a result, they are going to cling to you and you are responsible for keeping them happy and comfortable. Before you pull a Katniss and volunteer without considering the repercussions, think about how much you actually like this person. This is a 24\\-hour gig, for multiple days. Once you volunteer yourself as a Thanksgiving host, there is no turning back. So know what, and with whom, you are signing up for.\n\n”}},{“type”:”heading”,”data”:{“text”:”Compromise\n\n”}},{“type”:”text”,”data”:{“text”:”Inviting someone home for Thanksgiving means signing up to attend to their needs for the whole weekend, even if those needs intrude on your personal traditions. If your guest has been allowed to eat the turkey leg at dinner every Thanksgiving since he was a kid, you need to step up \\(though really it’s you backing down\\) and let him have it, despite the fact that you usually get the turkey leg. Making compromises doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy your favorite traditions or enjoy being home. It does mean that you consider how your guest feels at all times, away from his or her own family at a special time of year, and accommodate from there. If your guest feels better sleeping in the top bunk, aka your usual spot, just let him have it; you’re still in your own home from the bottom bunk.\n\n”}},{“type”:”heading”,”data”:{“text”:”Address Dietary Restrictions Beforehand”}},{“type”:”text”,”data”:{“text”:”Don’t repeat my mistake and blindside your family with a last minute vegetarian guest. Your family will anxiously email, call, text, and Facebook message you about what to feed this person. And if you’re hauling a vegan or gluten\\-free friend home with you, give proper notice to your Thanksgiving chef! No one wants to be the jackass cook who didn’t care enough to provide gluten\\-free corn muffins; this is possibly the most epic meal of the year, so don’t be the one responsible for leaving your guest hungry or your family feeling guilty.\n”}},{“type”:”heading”,”data”:{“text”:”Plan Some Alternate Activities”}},{“type”:”text”,”data”:{“text”:”The weekend neither starts nor ends with the single meal of Thanksgiving dinner. You have multiple days to fill with fun activities. Have a plan about where else you’re going to take them: restaurants, friends’ houses, the mall, your favorite park when you were a kid, whatever could possibly eat up a few hours. Speaking of eating, do as much of this as humanly possible. Your hometown could be the most boring place ever, but if you fill your friend’s stomach with good food, you can trick him into thinking it was “the best weekend ever!” Plus, messing around in the kitchen, whipping up a batch \\(or a dozen\\) of cookies will take up at least a couple hours.\n”}},{“type”:”heading”,”data”:{“text”:”Choose Your Battles”}},{“type”:”text”,”data”:{“text”:”Hopefully the entire weekend will be amicable and no fighting will occur. I do believe, however, it is best to be prepared for a less than PG\\-rated conversation to take place at some point. Regardless of whether your guest is involved in the tussle, or they are simply observing you quarrel with a relative, please control yourself. It is ten\\-thousand times more awkward for your guest, who will be playing an away game the whole weekend, to see you in fight mode. They have no place to hide because they’re on your turf. Unless something so unspeakable happens, and it would compromise all you stand for in life to remain silent, let your drunken relatives comments blow right past you; focus on your guest and pick a fight with this relative next year. An added bonus to keeping your cool: when you and your guest are alone, you can say “yeah it really bothered me when he said that but I didn’t respond because I didn’t want things to be awkward for you.” This will amplify your friendship because they know you care about their feelings and now they can relax because they know you have their back.\n”}},{“type”:”heading”,”data”:{“text”:”The Logistics”}},{“type”:”text”,”data”:{“text”:”Public transportation is expensive enough as it is. Add in the element of a holiday weekend and you are looking at almost double the cost of an average bus, plane, or train ticket. You need to figure out what time you are leaving for the weekend and when you are getting back at least a few weeks in advance to avoid financial and situational stress. And talk to your family beforehand about where Thanksgiving is being held and how formal things are going to be this year. The last thing you want to do is tell your guest that holidays in your family are “super casual,” resulting in them packing jeans and sweatshirts for the weekend, but everyone else decided to class it up this year and wear dresses and khaki pants. You don’t need to spend hours on the phone with your family back home to plan out every minute, but for you and your guest to enjoy the holiday to its fullest, you should cover the basics.\n”}},{“type”:”heading”,”data”:{“text”:”Introducing Holiday Guests to Friends at Home”}},{“type”:”text”,”data”:{“text”:”This is always a little bit awkward. Friends from your hometown may get a little bit territorial; it is just because they love you. Before such introductions go down, you need to manipulate both parties. First of all, you have to talk about the person you’re bringing home to your hometown friends and vice versa. This way, when they meet each other they can actually say “I’ve heard a lot about you,” and mean it. Providing a little background is better than overly\\-praising somebody; even though you have seen all of your friends at their funniest, bragging about the “funny guy” you’re bringing home might result in a let down if they’re not on their joke game that day. Just talk about them, things they like and what they do, so all of your friends have an opportunity to ask each other about these things, without a false expectation about how funny or great this person is supposed to be.\n”}},{“type”:”heading”,”data”:{“text”:”Check in: How do your guests feel about that?”}},{“type”:”text”,”data”:{“text”:”You won’t know what your guest wants or if they’re happy unless you ask. They might feel uncomfortable going into the fridge and taking food, so periodically ask if they’re hungry. Ask if they have shampoo to take a shower. Ask if they are scared of your dog and do you need to plan a pet\\-and\\-play session to ease the tension between them. Your guest may already feel like they are intruding on your life by being in your home and requiring so much attention. It is your duty as a host to consistently check\\-in and make sure that your guest has everything they need to feel as at home as possible. Remember, you’re not just their friend for the weekend, you’re their family.\n”}}]}