You want this year's family Thanksgiving dinner to be extra special. No paper plates and plastic cups on trays in front of the football game.
So, you pull out the fine china, polish the silver, wash the stemware and iron your prettiest cloth for the dining-room table. You arrange flowers or fruit for a centerpiece and put tapers in the candelabra.
What you serve and how many courses you offer depends on your family's food preferences, but four courses likely would be sufficient for the bounteous Thanksgiving dinner.
The courses might be a shrimp or oyster cocktail, followed by soup, followed by the main course -- turkey and all the trimmings. For a very formal dinner, the salad course comes next, then dessert and coffee. However, hostesses today most often serve the salad before, or along with, the main course.
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Here, with assistance from the 14th edition of "Emily Post's Etiquette, a Guide to Modern Manners," is a page of tips on formal dining.
There are degrees of formality, of course, and most modern households do not come equipped with servers. Carving of the bird may be done by Dad at the table, with plates passed to Mom for serving the dressing and vegetables. Responsible children may be charged with helping place and remove the plates.
Certain rules do, however, hold fast: Diners are served from their left and plates are removed from their right. No one begins to eat until the hostess has raised her fork to begin. And no one leaves the table -- no rushing to the den to watch a football kickoff -- until the hostess rises and signals the end of the meal.
But no matter how formal or informal the setting, the most important amenities of all at a Thanksgiving table are warm hearts and gratitude for family and friends.