Conversational No-Nos To Avoid During The Holidays

The dish you don't want at the dinner table

Thanksgiving is one of a handful of holidays (along with Easter and Christmas) where you have the opportunity to invite assorted family and friends over for a large meal. Some of us do it because we really want to see all these folks, while others do it more out of a sense of some type of cultural/traditional obligation.

Whatever your motivation might be, there are certain conversational topics you may want to steer clear of in order to keep holiday harmony intact. (And, to keep the pumpkin pie from flying, too.)

You voted for who?

In today’s political climate, this topic is one sure to inflame passions. The last election showed us one of the biggest divides our country has ever seen, yet there’s no need to go into detail about it at the holiday dinner table. We all have an uncle who has different political ideas from ourselves, but now's not the time to try and convert them from the dark side. Political turmoil has dominated the headlines for the last year . . . let's leave this conversation for mom's birthday and really rile her up.

Did you go to church on Sunday?

Here’s another hot-button topic, if there ever was one. Religious differences have raged worldwide for as long as there’s been a world, and we are sure they've raged among your dinner table as well. It's hard to bring up religion and expect an unbiased conversation. So, instead let's talk about television . . . Netflix isn't a religion yet, right? Now, pass the yams.

Did you see my new 75" TV?

If the economy or your family's health are going well, great! More to celebrate at this festive time of year. If not, though, expect conversation to veer this way without much of a push. Before you comment about how much you spent on your new car, think about different financial situations and the current job climate. And, if grandma won't stop talking about her stomach issues, steer the conversation toward your New Year's plans instead.

Mind your OWN plate

While you may have a rather modest appetite, others may go for what’s behind door number three, four, and five. They’ve come to play, and they aren’t shy about it. All we’re saying is maybe refrain from comments like “Hey, save some for the rest of us!,” even if you put a forced little fake chuckle in there. Everyone knows what the subtext is. Food is a big part of the holidays, no shaming please!

These potatoes are so runny . . .

Someone (or multiple people) went to a lot of trouble to prepare the table before you. If something doesn’t fit your fancy, refrain from the snark about the food quality or selection. You’ll thank us for this suggestion because you'll be invited back to next year's festivities.

Did you get a new dog yet?

It's holiday time, and the kids are on you about getting a new puppy. You're a bit allergic, but it's not totally out of the question—you just want a little rest from the topic. Even though they're all sitting at the kid's table, if Grandpa says "Hey, I hear you're getting them a puppy," your kids will be on you like white on rice. Cue the eye roll.

How Is Monica?

Dating and relationships can be tricky. And, if someone is going through a painful divorce or separation in your family, they surely don't want to talk all about it over holiday dinner. So, think before you speak . . . a tough one for some of us. Maybe do a little intelligence gathering before everyone sits down to determine if this road is worth driving down. When in doubt, speed quickly away from this topic.

Remember that time . . .

Every family has one or two topics that are best left alone. Like when Aunt Lucy and Uncle Ricky decided to do that wacky spousal-swapping thing with Aunt Ethel and Uncle Fred. That’s a dicey one. If you really want the dirt, buttonhole the key players in the hallway later on for your cross-examination.


Maybe this one isn’t a no-no per se, but it’s one that can start an argument or two. Thanksgiving is culturally known for two big things: turkey and football. Load up on some turkey, stuffing, cranberries, and pumpkin pie, then stagger to the couch for some gridiron action.

Football fans can be a passionate lot, especially if they’re arguing about the merits of their team after an adult beverage or three. And, if this is your first holiday with say a new girlfriend's family, definitely avoid any team bashing (especially if they're all wearing giant cheeseheads at the dinner table).

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