How To Survive Thanksgiving: A Political Guide

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Nov. 21 2018, Published 3:00 a.m. ET

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Thanksgiving is one of the very few “feel good” holidays where Americans can pause and reflect on the things they’re grateful for, eat a festive meal among family and friends and at times, have a friendly debate about the best ways to conquer Black Friday Shopping. Reflecting with others about life can be a great way to get to know your loved ones, but when it comes to touching base around the dinner table it’s best to leave politics out of the conversation.

Let’s face it, people are creatures of curiosity. Sometimes we want to validate our beliefs and opinions against others to feel sane. When it comes to politics, we have the same sentiments. We can all agree that the past Midterm Elections were full of nail-biting, tears and many other in-between emotions. Our political climate is like having an overweight blue and red elephant in the room: we really want to look at it and have tons of questions about it, but we know it’s probably not the best idea in many family situations. As tempted as we are to touch on the topic of politics in temperate turkey waters, here are some tips and strategies on how to cleverly avoid the discussion altogether:

Keep the conversation neutral and change the topic

If the turkey is still in the oven for another 45 minutes, best believe there will be some small talk before it comes out. The wait always feels longer than it really is. It goes without saying that during this time if Joe your Republican uncle or Nancy your Democratic auntie is in the room, they’ll be curious to ask the young folk about how their voting experience went.

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Keep the conversation neutral by overexpressing how grateful you are to have the opportunity to vote. Maybe rave about how you hope to help the community and how sporting that voting sticker in all your selfies was so worth it. If they try to touch on the issues of the election try to keep a positive attitude expressing how things can only go up from here. They may think you’re super naive, but it’s better than getting deep into a conversation and sparking the debate that sparks too much political tension before the turkey is ready to eat!

Your First Aid Board Game Kit

Resurrect the inner child of your parents and entertain the younger kids with a trusty assortment of travel-sized board games. Once you whip out a deck of cards or board game pieces, people will instantly get distracted by all the fun colors. Uno, Taboo or Spades are some good ones to start with. Avoid at all costs games that may trigger a political conversation like Monopoly. For example, the fake money and the opportunity to buy land in a pretend world seems too close our real-world capitalistic problems. The best place to find all your travel-sized game needs is either your local Barnes and Noble, Target or Amazon.

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Snacking and Crafting

Light snacking is encouraged, a hangry attitude is not! Make yourself the MVP of Thanksgiving by brainstorming in advance some cutesy food crafts to prepare with the whole family. Making it a competition is even better. There will be work on your end to look for simple recipes and wrangle the ingredients. Try Pinterest or Martha Stewart if you need some creative inspo. Most importantly, try to get to the store early to do your shopping for your food project. You don’t want to be the one standing in the long shopping lines where people are literally buying their entire Thanksgiving meal and you’re buying a pack of pretzels, peanut butter and discounted candy corn from Halloween.

Some Do’s and Don’ts

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Do watch the Football game

Do think of fun physical activities to do outside to get your metabolism moving

Don’t show up too late for Thanksgiving dinner, you may walk into a heated political conversation and miss the dark meat of the turkey! If anything, come early so you can have some control over the environment.

Do dress to impress! Everyone wants to commemorate their Thanksgiving outfits before they stuff their faces.

Don’t forget to give compliments to the cook for slaving over a hot stove

Do bring a dish to share. It’ll show off your cooking skills and when the fam wants to talk about the ups and downs of your non-existent love life, they’ll at least have one nice thing to compliment you on.

Believe us, if you follow these tips you will be the MVP of Thanksgiving and the most liked friend or family member that will get invited to every other event. It’s a cause worth fighting for.

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By: Panyin Conduah

Panyin Conduah is Multimedia Journalist and Filmmaker based in New York City. Both her writing and documentaries cover stories that deal with social issues in communities. She has written for local newspapers The Westside Spirit, Our Town and digitally for and When she’s not busy se enjoys finding new adventures around the city and painting. Follow her on Twitter @panyin110.

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