How To Survive Thanksgiving With Your Family

Multi generation family having fun at Christmas dinner event

Thanksgiving is a fun time of year where we get to eat plenty of food and reflect on what we are grateful for in our lives. However, it can be difficult when the family is all together, and not everyone sees eye to eye on every topic. It’s not uncommon for Thanksgiving dinner to end up in a fight or screaming match from high tensions and poorly thought out conversation. Your day doesn’t have to go that direction, though. There are ways to help avoid a Thanksgiving day disaster that the family will talk about for years to come. Here are a few tips to help ensure your turkey day is drama-free, and everyone enjoys themselves. 

Avoid Excess Alcohol

It can be easy to go for a cocktail when you know you are entering a stressful situation. Holidays usually facilitate drinking since they are social events but having one too many can set you up for disaster. Alcohol inhibits our ability to control our words and actions, which isn’t necessarily a good thing when your aunt Karen won’t stop voicing her very loud opinions. Avoid the urge to drown your sorrows in a bottle and instead opt for getting some air outdoors when you start feeling stressed. Doing this will allow you to calm down and keep your words under control. You don’t have to forgo the drinks altogether, but know your limit and don’t overdo it. 


When you lend a helping hand, you’re not only helping your family out, but you’re giving yourself busywork that will help the time go by faster. Seeing you busy making a dish or setting the table may keep inquiring minds at bay and help you avoid conversations you may prefer not to have. There is also a sense of pride and inclusion from contributing to the day’s festivities which can help increase your serotonin and make you feel happier. There’s no downside to lending a hand to your family members that need it, and it will show you’re glad to be there and be involved, even if that isn’t entirely true. 

Dress Well

Family members who enjoy finding areas to judge will jump on the chance to comment on your outfit if it’s not up to par. Avoid this by taking some extra time and putting in the effort to make yourself look presentable and put together. It’s nice to dress up now and again and can help the day feel more special and not like it’s just another day you have to get through. Dressing to impress is a great way to show your family you care, and seeing them matters to you, which will make them feel appreciated and loved. 

Suggest Safe Talking Points

As a general rule, it is best to avoid hot-button issues like religion and politics. People feel very passionate about their beliefs and are ready to defend them, quickly escalating to arguments. Spend a few minutes beforehand making a list of topics you know won’t cause an uproar, and try to stick to them as closely as possible. If you know certain family members have hobbies or have begun new projects, ask them about it. Many safe and enjoyable topics will keep the conversation going and not create unnecessary problems.

Master Deflection

Since you’ve come prepared with talking points, you can more easily deflect questions and comments meant to lure you or others into arguments. Don’t fall into the trap of elaborating on a subject just because someone brought it up. Politely answer and switch to another topic to redirect the conversation. 

Put On The Game

If all else fails, put the game on as a distraction from current conversations. Even if you aren’t interested in football, it can be an excellent way to give you an excuse to excuse yourself without seeming rude. Chances are you’re not the only one who will appreciate this tactic, and you may find yourself surrounded by family members you may not have had the opportunity to talk to otherwise. 

Thanksgiving can be a wonderful time with your family where you get to reconnect and share in making memories. Help ensure the time is well spent by avoiding excess alcohol, contributing to the work, dressing well, suggesting safe talking points, mastering deflection, and putting on the game. You can enjoy the holiday and your family; remember, if all else fails, you can take a turkey-induced nap that will nicely pass the time!