Thanksgiving kicks off the holiday season. On one hand, it’s a glorious day full of unbridled gluttony with limitless protein and veritable mountains of carbs just waiting for an hours=long food extravaganza. On the other, it’s the day on which family members are most likely to needle one another about petty annoyances until someone snaps, and in spite of everyone’s best intentions, an epic shouting match begins.

We’ve all been there: Aunt Belinda has had a third glass of wine and starts in on the uselessness of your degree in studio art, or maybe someone makes an offhandmention of Hillary 2016 and suddenly the dinner table becomes an episode of Crossfire. No matter what sets it off, holiday drama is always a huge buzzkill.

It’s never a bad idea to be the bigger person in an unpleasant holiday situation. Maybe you’ve spent weeks coming up with the perfect comeback for when your mother asks “So, you seeing anyone?” but honestly, it’s probably best to save those zingers for another time.

Or maybe you’re the one who somehow manages every year to set the ball rolling for a giant family argument. Maybe you just can’t help but let your carnivorous family know that meat is murder or maybe you’re still upset that your little sister has started calling herself a libertarian since her first day of Political Science 101.

Everyone wants a calm meal and a pleasant day, so it’s probably best to leave controversial topics out of dinner conversation. Emotions run high when everyone is either starving for dinner or so full they can barely move, so if you’ve got a huge bone to pick (or even a little one to needle) with your family, either get it out of the way the day before dinner or leave it until Black Friday.

To avoid other uncomfortable dinnertime talk, we’ve made a list of the top conversational no-no’s for Thanksgiving dinner. Print it out, take it with you, and see how much better a holiday can be when everyone sticks to polite conversation.

1. Religion



Thanksgiving is not a religious holiday, so why start in on an argument no one can win when you're supposed to be giving thanks?

2. How much someone else is eating

445d3b6f-Group Of Friends Enjoying Meal In Restaurant

Group Of Friends Enjoying Meal In Restaurant (iStock)

Listen, Thanksgiving is a no-holds-barred, all-day gluttony marathon. It does not matter how many times Cousin Shelly goes back to the dessert tray, no one is allowed to remark on how she’s “really filling out.”

3. Politics

Government Concept

A conceptual look at government and the roles it fulfils. Blue tone. (iStock)

Nothing can spark a holiday shouting match faster than unsolicited political commentary. No matter how guests feel about universal health care, the president, or marriage laws, at the Thanksgiving table, they should make like cranberry sauce and can it. And if another guest can’t keep their political opinions quiet, smile politely and try your best to change the subject.

4. Family scandals

angry couple fighting wanting to strange each other

young angry couple fighting wanting to strange each other (iStock)

Emily Post says it’s never appropriate to bring up “painful family subjects” around the dinner table. We know, we know, everyone is dying to know why Aunt Estelle finally left her husband, but save inquiries for a more discreet moment.

5. How bad the food is


Okay, kitchen accidents happen. Sometimes turkeys dry out or mashed potatoes turn soupy. It is never okay for a guest to point out to a host who has been slaving over a stove all day that he likes his green bean casserole without the French’s fried onion.

6. Your dietary preferences

Turkey Dinner Closeup

Traditional turkey dinner with cranberry sauce and stuffing and all the trimmings. (iStock)

Veganism, gluten intolerance, and a preference for organic dairy are subjects to broach before the meal. Like, weeks before. If guests haven’t informed their hosts that they don’t eat anything with a face prior to turkey day, they’re stuck with what they get.

You definitely shouldn't bring up any of these topics during Thanksgiving dinner.

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