Underdressed on Turkey Day

Published 11:28 am Monday, November 6, 2023

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

Dear Aunty Pam,


Thanksgiving is coming up and this year it’s my turn to host the family meal. This is also the first time my family will be meeting my new boyfriend, Ted.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Ted is a successful businessman and I also have a successful career. I mentioned this because we both enjoy a lifestyle we have worked very hard to create and this will be reflected in the Thanksgiving dinner I am preparing. I will be using the formal dining room in my home with the china and crystal I have collected over the years.

The problem I am concerned about is that while I can count on my parents to dress appropriately, meaning, smart casual— I’m not expecting suit and tie— my two siblings and their kids have in the past always made no effort and show up in jeans and T-shirts or sweatshirts. My brother has even worn his baseball cap at the table and when I commented on it, he told me to stop acting better than anybody else.

I’m wondering if I should tell my siblings to please dress up a little bit for this dinner, but I am worried they might think I’m criticizing them and stay home. Any suggestions?




Dear Amy,


Aunty Pam feels your plight as I was raised in an environment in which respect for the significance of the meal and the person who prepared it meant dressing appropriately to show appreciation.

Honestly, is it too much to ask for guests/family members to slap on a sweater and a pair of khakis and not wear a baseball cap (the very idea!!) after a host has scrubbed their house from top to bottom, put out the guest towels, set a beautiful table and cooked an enormous meal? I mean, one certainly doesn’t see baseball caps and manky sweatshirts in that Norman Rockwell Thanksgiving painting, do they?

Note to self: easy, Boomer….

From your prior experience with your brother, I would suggest saying nothing in case it creates friction and surly attitudes upon his arrival. No doubt your parents will also be somewhat embarrassed by your siblings’ attire should they dress as they have in the past. And so Aunty Pam suggests that you simply tell Ted the truth so that he knows what to expect on the big day: that while you and your parents will be turned out nicely for the meal, there is no telling what your siblings and their children might do.

That way Ted will know what to expect and really, if he’s any sort of decent human being, he will dismiss it, give you a kiss on the forehead, and say ‘Honey, all that matters is that we are together.’

And remember to serve a lovely crisp Chardonnay and a juicy Pinot Noir to prevent anyone from collapsing into a food coma.


Cheers, dear!!

Aunty Pam