7 Ways to Avoid Talking Politics With Relatives This Thanksgiving

Which moron decided that Thanksgiving and Election Day should fall in the same month anyway? After an especially contentious campaign season, family members who don’t necessarily share the same political views will be compelled to sit together for a holiday meal and do their best to keep things civil.

The Thanksgiving table is not an internet comment section – it’s perfectly okay to choose to create a positive family moment rather than stating all of your beliefs at this particular moment. If you’re hoping against hope that you’ll make it through the long weekend without getting in a fight, you’d be wise to plan some ways to make sure that happens:

1. Flat Out Say That You Want to Avoid Political Talk 

young, happy, smiling woman showing time out gesture

The following ideas are all clever ways to either change the conversation or extract yourself from it altogether, but if you’re bold enough to be direct with your family, why not just deliberately say, “Let’s make a pact not to turn Thanksgiving into an argument and agree to have no political conversations at the dinner table”? That’s a proposal that’s difficult for anyone to shoot down without looking unreasonable.

If you’d rather not stick out in this manner, find an ally, like the family matriarch, to make the suggestion instead. Perhaps your mom or grandmother didn’t vote the same way as you, but she might very much agree that dinner would go better without political debate. Your family will have trouble disagreeing with this request, particularly if she spent the day in the kitchen preparing the meal.

2. Focus on Nostalgia

Happy grandparents and grandkids looking at album photo

Families almost universally love to laugh together, so come to dinner prepared with a mental list of funny anecdotes from the past that everyone can rehash. If the conversation starts to steer in an undesirable direction, pop in with a, “You know what I was thinking about on the way over? That time when…” and offer up a shared memory about a family vacation or embarrassing moment.

Reminiscing is a great way to reinforce familial bonds in a way that debating the present never will.

3. Play Games

adults playing charades

Games aren’t just for children – they’re also a good way to spend positive time with family members without having to worry about the conversation turning combative. You don’t even need to leave the table or have an actual board game to play an impromptu round or two of Charades, Telephone, Pictionary or Celebrity.

4. Volunteer to Sit at the Kids Table

Very delicious pie

At some holiday dinners, the guest list is so long that not everyone can fit at the main dining table. If there’s overflow seating earmarked for the kids, plop your plate down with them for a welcome change of pace. Adult conversation is overrated when you anticipate it to be contentious.

5. Discuss Entertainment

Young couple at the cinema watching an horror movie

Novels, music, movies, Netflix, etc. are all common forms of escapism, so try using pop culture subjects to escape political conversation. For a sustained discussion, make sure to know your audience and their preferred genres. Depending on the family, the mere mention of Adele might be enough to get people going, while other crowds might be drawn to action-based conversation-starters like “What’s the best superhero movie you’ve seen lately?” or “Who should play the next Batman?

6. Do the Dishes 

Dirty dishes pile needing washing up on white background

There’s no quicker excuse to ditch the dinner table than to appoint yourself to dish duty. It’s a dirty job that comes with a lot of kudos from your fellow diners, so even if you feel some hostility for being the political black sheep of the family, you’ll score some brownie points for being selfless, plus avoid further charged conversation.

7. Make the Political Discussion Less Charged – or SUPER Charged

Talking at Thanksgiving

If your relatives seem incapable of staying away from politics, you could always try to steer the discussion to a political subject that isn’t so charged. For example, instead of weighing the merits of the presidential candidates, you could ask people how they feel about the Electoral College – a topic that can be debated but isn’t overly partisan and should leave no one in tears.

That, or if you’ve made your position on no political talk clear, you can always employ the nuclear option and threaten retaliatory action. Every time your uncle says the word “Trump,” you can pledge to give $20 to Planned Parenthood or the ACLU. This approach might not help smooth anything over, but at least something good will come out of having to sit through that conversation.

Photo credit: Thinkstock


Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus2 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Pamela Lebowitz
Pamela Lebowitz2 years ago

How about spending your day with those that have no place to go literally and volunteer at a shelter. I agree with number one more than anything , although I have no experience to really be giving advice or how I feel about the subject or what it would be like since I haven't celebrated Thanksgiving since my mother died on Thanksgiving day and now just spend the day in quiet reflection and try to give thanks and be grateful in my own way now that I'm completely alone as far as family goes and have ever since I turned 7 years old for the most part, my dad tried to keep things as "normal" as possible just for me but he never got over that day until he passed away in 2010 and I always tried to spend the day with him but now that he's gone, I spend it alone so I don't have that problem like everybody else did this year) I believe that you're very first suggestion is the best one by far. The best solution for those that have a table to share or have family, been invited to share with another family and loved ones or friends just discuss the subject beforehand that there will be no discussion of politics at your Thanksgiving table or perhaps calling the host or hostess and suggesting that avoiding the topic of politics of any kind or not welcome, especially this year. Unless everybody agrees on the same things with I haven't seen happen yet. A good friend of mine was terrified to go to Thanksgiving dinner for this very reason and she called her mother-in-law and asked that

Naomi Dreyer
Naomi Dreyer2 years ago

We Baha'is don't discuss politics although we are encouraged to be good citizens whereever we may live AND vote.

Donn M.
.2 years ago

Talk about religion, hahahahahahaha! And keep intolerant, narrow-minded haters like someone below away.

Ron B.
Ron B2 years ago

As far as I'm concerned, no Trump-loving, fetus worshiping, willfully ignorant, right-wing fascist morons are welcome in my house under any circumstances. There is far too much at stake now to suffer these fools lightly. I for one am already well aware of their bullshit and do not wish to hear it repeated over and over again.

Herbert C.
Herbert C2 years ago

Watch Dallas beat Washington, how about those Cowboys!

william Miller
william Miller2 years ago


Lisa M.
Lisa M2 years ago