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20 Ways You're Doing Thanksgiving Wrong

Photograph by Twenty20

I think Thanksgiving is one of the most underrated of all the holidays. Maybe people overlook it because the football, leftovers and family drama steal focus, but there truly is something unique at the core of Turkey Day. Think about it—this is a holiday where the only thing you buy is food to share and the only thing you give is your time and companionship. Sure, hanging out with Uncle Gary in Grandma's basement isn't always fun, but Thanksgiving is a concept that deserves more credit than it normally receives, and it's a holiday that deserves to be celebrated correctly.

You heard me—CORRECTLY. Because many of you are routinely making rookie mistakes every single Thanksgiving and it has to stop. The day deserves your respect. So, as a service for all you turkey noobs out there, there are 20 absolutely essential, inarguable, totally indisputable rules for celebrating a successful Thanksgiving. Do not ever:

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1. Add apples to the stuffing.

NEVER do this. I don't care what you saw on the Food Network. Are you Mario Batali? No. So, don't go near the stuffing with those apples and, if I see any raisins, things are going DOWN.

2. Go anywhere that serves standard Thanksgiving fare if your family decides to forego tradition and go to a restaurant.

Chinese, Indian, tacos—all acceptable examples of Thanksgiving counter-programming. Going to Boston Market? That's just giving up. #quitter

3. Skip the pumpkin pie.

It does not matter if you like pumpkin pie. It's mandatory. Even if no one eats it. Consider it your Thanksgiving potpourri.

4. Not have hand turkeys.

Hand turkeys are the best. Always make hand turkeys.

5. Have a cornucopia.

No one likes or understands cornucopias. Don't waste your time.

6. Deep-fry a turkey.

There are only three reasons to deep-fry a turkey: 1) You're bored. 2) You want an excuse to stand alone in the driveway and not interact with your family (totally valid). 3) You're SO bored that the only way you can make it through the day is to make it marginally more likely that you are going to be horribly burned or blown up (also valid).

7. Bother the person spending all of Thanksgiving in the kitchen.

Someone will spend all of Thanksgiving in the kitchen pretending to cook, pretending to clean, pretending that something really needs to get done right now, even though you know they're wrong. Here's the thing—they're probably going through some stuff. Leave them be.

8. Forget to DVR the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade.

The DVR is the best/worst thing that's ever happened when it comes to watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade. The best part? It allows you to wake up late and fast-forward through everything you don't want to watch. The worst part? When you do this, you realize that there is only 12 minutes of parade footage in the 3-hour broadcast.

9. Deprive yourself of great Thanksgiving games.

Want to know the best Thanksgiving game ever? Whoever brings up politics first—be they conservative, liberal, or independent—has made themselves the target for the entire meal. It is your Thanksgiving challenge to team up with everyone else at the table to mock them into silence. Bring up embarrassing stories, do unflattering impressions, laugh at how they pronounce certain words. Whatever it takes, even if it's Grandma. The table's duty is to TAKE THEM DOWN. #ShutUpUncleGary

10. Ignore the teen who gets moved to the grown-up table.

Getting moved to the grown-up table is a big deal. It's OK to get emotional about it. Some call it the "New England Bar Mitzvah."

11. Look down on the kids' table.

The kids' table is always more fun. ALWAYS. You will miss it.

12. Leave early for Black Friday.

If a family member leaves Thanksgiving dinner early to get ready for Black Friday, you no longer have to buy them a Christmas present. #turkeyetiquette

13. Overlook bars.

There is a reason why bars and movie theaters are open on Thanksgiving. Because people need dark places to hide from their relatives. Don't be afraid to use them.

14. Underestimate the gravy.

Everything tastes better with a little bit of gravy on it. Even the cranberry sauce.

15. Look down on Friendsgivings.

Seeing your family is nice and all, but those Thanksgivings in your 20s when all your friends who couldn't afford to go home got together in some random apartment and did their best job of pretending to be adults and threw together a dinner for whoever could make it? Those will endure as the best Thanksgivings you will ever have. Never forget them.

16. Skip the side dishes for the turkey.

Let's be honest—as is true with most really good BBQ restaurants, the real draws on Thanksgiving are the side dishes. If you have to skimp on anything, skimp on the turkey.

17. Send your guests home with all the leftovers and don't save enough to make yourself a reheated "second feast" on Friday.

You just failed Thanksgiving. #amateur

18. Not watch "Planes, Trains and Automobiles."

It's the best Thanksgiving movie. This is not debatable. (Allowances will be made for "A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving" and "Alice's Restaurant," but that's it.)

19. Bring up the history of Thanksgiving before, during or after the meal, particularly in the presence of children.

Because there is a 95 percent chance that anything you say will be incorrect, misconstrued or more than a little racist. (Anyone who even says the word "Squanto" gets their dessert privileges revoked.) Like most holidays, Thanksgiving has a weird, thorny, poorly defined history that you should completely toss out the window. Here's all you need to know—you get a day off, (ideally) you're spending it with loved ones, you're attempting to cook a really good meal, and the act of sharing that meal will hopefully make you feel a little more humble, appreciative and gracious than you usually are. Thanksgiving is NOT about the past. It's about being present.

20. "Explain" what Thanksgiving is about.

Anyone who spends a whole paragraph trying to "explain" what Thanksgiving is about should have their dessert privileges revoked. Armchair philosophers do not deserve any pumpkin pie.

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Did we miss any essential Thanksgiving rules? How do you feel about apples in your stuffing? Do you hate them or are you an admitted social deviant? Let us know in the comments section.

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