10 Topics to Avoid for a Drama-Free Thanksgiving Dinner


thanksgiving dinnerAh, the holidays. That warm and fuzzy time when families get together and smile and laugh and everything is just like a Hallmark card. Or a Folgers commercial.

Or a train wreck. I say that with great fondness, of course -- what's a holiday without a little dysfunctional family drama? Boring, that's what it is. (Not that I would know.) Still, nobody wants Thanksgiving dinner to get so tense that siblings leave swearing to never speak to each other again.

Think about it. Christmas is only a month away. Awkward!

So in the interest of keeping the family peace and preserving one's personal mental health as much as possible, consider studying the following list of hot button conversation topics to avoid at all costs this Thanksgiving. I'm not a counselor or family therapist, mind you -- just passing on some of the things I've learned over years and years of dysfunctional holiday gatherings.

Good luck! And remember, when in doubt, shove a tremendous amount of food in your mouth so you can't possibly answer any questions:

"Dear, don't you think your father was a cheapskate?"


Top 10 Topics of Conversation to Avoid at Thanksgiving Dinner

  1. Long-Standing Sibling Spats. The truth is, if you and your sister haven't been able to resolve that little misunderstanding involving your high school boyfriend for the past 20 years, you're not going to suddenly figure things out yelling at each other across a table your mother set with the good dishes. Eat a dead turkey, don't beat a dead horse.
  2. Divorces/Separations/Affairs. Mashed potatoes and gravy sprinkled with bitterness and resentment? Pass the antacids, please. At the first mention of how your family got so broken to begin with, change the subject. Immediately.
  3. Money. The road to holiday hell is paved with talk about how much money so-and-so loaned so-and-so and how little money so-and-so loaned that other so-and-so and I guess so-and-so just loves so-and-so more! Good times.
  4. Substance Abuse. Here's how the script for this one goes, just in case you don't already have it memorized ... Family Member #1: Another glass of wine? Don't you think you've had enough? Family Member #2: What do you know about it? Screw you, Dad/Mom/sister/brother! You're the reason why I drink in the first place! Yeah, just don't even go there.
  5. Failed Expectations. Either your sister wasted her talent as a classical pianist or you could have gone to Harvard if you just applied yourself ... y'all disappointed your parents in one way or another. When they start dropping hints, volunteer to clear the table.
  6. Physical Appearance. Maybe you put on a little weight. Maybe you lost too much weight. Maybe you should really do something about that hair. Don't justify the criticism with a response. Have another glass of wine (see #4, Substance Abuse).
  7. You Never. As in, you never came to my softball games. You never told me you loved me. You never tucked me in at night. You never blah, blah, blah. I know, I know -- they never did. But why bring it up now?
  8. Big Disasters. Remember that time Bobby tried to build a rocket in the basement and he practically blew up the whole house and thousands of dollars in repairs had to be made? NO. Just say no.
  9. Religion. It doesn't matter what -- if any -- religion you were raised in; if your adult beliefs (or those of your siblings) differ from the creed your parents, aunts, uncles, and/or grandparents believe in, leave God out of your dinner plans.
  10. Politics. See above.

What topics do you plan to avoid at your family's Thanksgiving dinner?


Image via oddharmonic/Flickr

relationships, stress, emotional health


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nonmember avatar Knuckles

I dont talk much during Thanksgiving dinner. I just sit back with some tasty food and enjoy the show! (Is it wrong to bring popcorn to a family gathering?)

douxm... douxmusique

Yeah and we all have learned theseessons the hard way lmbo!

Jim Potts

good advice I'll just keep my mouth full of food that will help thanks %#}O

Heart... HeartCharmMama


nonmember avatar Save1Star

What topics do you plan to avoid at your family's Thanksgiving dinner?
My sexuality- for dinner at Dad's anyway. Mom will want to know why I never bring any nice girls home to meet her, which is another issue entirely LOL.

Lindsay Christine Kelsey

I know for a fact that numbers 1 and 2 will be at my in-laws' Thanksgiving table...my husband's oldest aunt just left her third husband for a man that she had been cheating with for a long time...and she's bringing him to meet the fam.  Her and my husband's youngest aunt (they're sisters) have had a feud going for like, six years to begin with.  I'm thinking about just pretending to be sick and staying home so I don't have to hear the snarky comments.

hilla... hillary819

The only problem is that my MIL is a relentless know it all and I'm a non confrontational pushover.  I smile and nod and walk away, she walks after you and won't let it go until everyone agrees with her. 

Kayla... Kayla2013

I will not be going to MY family's for the holiday. I will be spending it with mil, sil and df. thank god they understand everything I have been though. recent miscarriages and stuff..cause I can promise if I went to my family's I would throw a punch at my cousins. So as long as we dont talk babies and what not.. I am good to go.

nonmember avatar Amy @ Chef Bask

I'm pretty sure having a family with big mouths we've touched on most of those topics.

cara124 cara124

hmmm well since thanksgiving is at my sisters and her new boyfriends ( whom she through out her hubsand to move the boyfriend in ) sisters family is also coming to meet our family ( oh and did i mention i've been dating someone i have only told my brother about & have no plans to invite to thanksgiving )....

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