15 Things You Should Never Discuss at Thanksgiving Dinner
Do you really want to be the person who causes the Awkward Family Silence?
How much your aunt is eating
Don’t make it your business to call out the amount of food on anyone else’s plate. Whether their plate is heaping with food or the person is taking tiny portions, commenting on their eating habits is rude, says national etiquette expert Diane Gottsman, author of Modern Etiquette for a Better Life and founder of The Protocol School of Texas. But for your own sake, learn which 14 foods nutritionists would never eat on Thanksgiving.
All the foods your niece can’t eat
Never make guests feel bad about veganism, food allergies, or any other dietary restrictions—and don’t insist that just a bite won’t hurt. “People tend to ‘dismiss’ allergies and overlook the fact that they can be life-threatening in some situations,” says Gottsman. If you’re hosting, ask about dietary restrictions before you start cooking (without making guests feel guilty) so that everyone will be able to enjoy the meal. Try making one of these 12 vegetarian-friendly Thanksgiving dishes.
Your uncle’s embarrassing moment
You can’t help but giggle every time you remember that time a relative made a fool out of himself, but not everyone will be laughing when you bring it up. “What one family member may see as funny may be someone else’s uncomfortable moment,” says Gottsman. “No one should bear the brunt of another person’s joke or story.” Sure, some people might be able to take a joke, but pay attention to body language, she recommends. If the reaction is an awkward smile or a scowl, apologize and change the subject.
How you’d change the recipe
As well-intentioned as it may be, keep your cooking advice to yourself. Sure, a pinch of spice or a different cooking method might improve the dish in your humble opinion, but voicing that is an insult to the host’s culinary skills. Even something like “How much butter did you use in this dish?” or “I bet this is fattening!” comes across as rude, says Gottsman. Just smile, thank the chef for making the food, and give it a compliment—that grateful spirit is what the Thanksgiving is all about.
Your nephew’s semester
If you’re seeing a relative for the first time since he left for college, you might want to ask how classes are going—but the student might not appreciate it. “It can come across as prying or nosey, especially if the college kid is struggling with grades or is stressing about what they are going to do when they graduate,” says Gottsman. Let your relatives share their college stories on their own time. Don't miss these other 15 tips for keeping your sanity while hosting Thanksgiving.