[Flickr: Pink Sherbet Photography]

20101026-thanksgivinginvite.jpgKeep reading, and I'll tell you how to get yourself invited to someone else's Thanksgiving feast.

I am a master Thanksgiving invitation garnerer. I speak from experience. I lost my parents when I was a teenager, so I had to develop this expertise early on or face a lifetime of Swanson Hungry Man turkey dinners. Knowing how difficult Thanksgiving can be for the uninvited, my wife and I make sure any strays we know are invited to our admittedly fat-laden but oh-so-delicious repast.

So here's a 10-step moocher's guide to getting invited to Thanksgiving dinner, practically guaranteed to land you at least one invitation you'd actually accept.

Step 1: Choose Your Marks Wisely

When you get to work tomorrow, start asking your colleagues (the ones you actually like) what they're doing for Thanksgiving. Make sure they're going someplace local—forget about anyone flying or driving more than a half hour away.

Step 2: Butter Them Up

If one or more of them explains in great detail about the heritage, organic, or wild turkey they're serving or the fabulous cornbread, oyster, and sausage stuffing their family cooks every year, you've got yourself a keeper. Respond by telling them how awesome that sounds. Oohs and ahhs should greet these people's descriptions. If any of your co-workers are well-mannered or generously spirited, they'll respond to your oohs and ahhs by asking you what you're doing for Thanksgiving.

Step 3: Play It Cool

Explain nonchalantly that you don't really have any plans this year, that your family lives too far away, and that you didn't get it together or couldn't afford to get a reasonably priced plane ticket. Do not sound morose, forlorn, or downtrodden. Nobody wants a self-pitying sad sack at their Thanksgiving.

Step 4: Demonstrate Your Interest


"I can't stop thinking about that crazy-good stuffing!" Practice saying that.

If you don't snare an invite today or even tomorrow, don't fret. After a few days, tell the folks whose Thanksgiving meal sounded particularly delicious that you can't stop thinking about that crazy-good stuffing or deep-fried turkey they described. The pleasure they hear in your voice may get you your first invitation. But maybe not. Don't worry. You're in pretty good shape at this point.

Step 5: Ask for a Recipe While Dropping a Hint

Next week, inform those same people you'd love to have the recipe for one or more of those dishes that sounded so good. Ask how long those obscenely rich mashed potatoes made with tons of butter and heavy cream will keep—because, eating alone, you're going to have tons of leftovers. If this doesn't get you at least one invitation by the time you leave work, your co-workers are a heartless bunch.

Step 6: Lean on Your Friends

Next weekend, you're probably going to be hanging out with your friends over the weekend. Repeat steps 1 through 5 with them. See if you get any Thanksgiving nibbles.

Step 7: Lose Some of the Subtlety, Talk About Pie


Fast forward a couple weeks. If you don't have an invitation yet, do not—repeat, do not—let desperation creep into your voice when you ask your colleagues what they did this weekend. Instead, tell them you went on a pie hunt on Saturday. You were searching for the best individually sized pies you could find at the bakeries around town. Inform them that you have, in fact, located the best apple and pumpkin pies in your area but that they don't come in individual sizes.

Step 8: Deciding Among Multiple Invitations

If the pie gambit doesn't get you at least one invitation, I'd be really surprised. My guess is that you'll have at least two invitations in hand after all these steps. Multiple invitations are what we call a high-class problem. Try to ascertain how each of your prospective hosts feels about his or her menu and guest list before making your decision. A great Thanksgiving requires some seriously delicious food and a fun bunch to share it with. If any of your marks seem less than confident about either element, prioritize accordingly.

Step 9: Desperate Measures, Time to Bring up Football

If you're still invitationless on November 20, start talking about the Thanksgiving Day football games. How the Cowboys have been so disappointing this year; how Lions fans have always had their playoff hopes dashed by Turkey Day; how much you love Drew Brees and the Saints post-Katrina; and what an eccentric genius Patriots coach Bill Belichick is, and if you're a guy, why Gisele Bundchen should be YOUR wife and NOT Tom Brady's.

Step 10: Sweeten the Deal

Make sure the pies you offer to bring are top notch. I've found that bringing world-class pies practically guarantees a return invite.

Got any other tips? Or success stories?


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