Photo: Scukrov (iStock), Graphic: Nicole Antonuccio
The Salty WaitressSalty Waitress is The Takeout’s advice column from a real-life waitress that will teach you how not to behave like a garbage person while dining out—and maybe in real life.  

Dear Salty: Every year, my family’s Thanksgiving meal invariably becomes a big production—and not in a good way. There’s drama about who hosts, who cooks what, how we should do the turkey, etc. It’s not so bad that we argue through the whole meal or anything, but the logistical arguments are exhausting. I’ve tried convincing my family we should go to a restaurant for Thanksgiving, but they’re totally opposed to the idea. I thought you’d have some good arguments. Back me up, Salty!

Thanks,
Let’s Go Out

Dear Let’s Go Out,

Oh honey, I’ve got your back on this. Honestly, I don’t understand why more people don’t go out for Thanksgiving dinner. If a restaurant is open, those servers and cooks are working anyway, so you may as well give them your business. Here are my points in favor of it—feel free to give me all the credit when your stick-in-the-mud family eventually sees the light:

  • No one has to cook or clean. Why people fight over who gets to host Thanksgiving is beyond me, but it seems like some families just love to be martyrs about the Thanksgiving spread. Imagine a holiday with no dirty sink, no overflowing garbage disposal, no spilled beer on the rug.
  • Grandpa is on better behavior. Not to say people don’t scream at each other in public, but a dining room full of other people tends to keep folks on better behavior. I’ve only broken up two small fights in my career, and neither was on Thanksgiving.
  • You can still take home leftovers. Order a big enough spread and you’ll still have turkey and stuffing and sides to take home in doggy bags.
  • Chefs are better cooks than your family. Not knocking your granny’s Stove Top Surprise or anything, but is the overcooked turkey or gummy sweet potatoes honestly more delicious than a good restaurant meal? Color me skeptical.
  • It’s less expensive than you’d think. Add up the cost of a turkey, booze, sides, plastic tablecloths, etc., etc. and it’s not like it’s cheap to make the home-cooked version. Lots of restaurants have set-price menus on Thanksgiving, or you could do a buffet.
  • Everyone gets what they want. Sarah the vegan can get her butternut squash entree; Mike can get turkey and potatoes; Granny gets prime rib; etc. There’s no arguing over what should be on the menu or guilt-tripping someone for cooking a dish in a way you don’t like.
  • Restaurants appreciate your business. There’s this twisted logic that you shouldn’t patronize restaurants on holidays because it forces people to work that day. First of all, not everyone celebrates the same holidays (some people might want a little distraction on Thanksgiving, in fact). Second, some servers could really use those holiday tips. (As always: tip generously, please and thank you.) Third, some people don’t mind working holidays. For me personally, the money is usually worth it, and I can celebrate with family and friends on a different day.

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Got a question about dining out etiquette? Or just a general question about life we can help you with? Email us: salty@thetakeout.com