Any family gathering is better without conflict. There are some legitimate strategies to help you avoid arguments during Thanksgiving and other gatherings.

1. Take the High Road

I'm sure you have heard this saying before. To many people, simple conversation is a competitition. To me, 'taking the high road' means that I should concede a conversation to avoid an argument. If someone is constantly 'one-upping' you in conversation with outlandish claims and half-truths, just concede and walk away.

  • "Yeah, wow, it sounds like you had a much more fun summer than I did. That's awesome. I'm going to get another drink. Be right back."
  • "Your car is way faster than mine, no doubt. I'm just glad I don't have to take the bus everywhere. I'm going to get another drink. Be right back."
  • "That's great that little Julie is reaching her developmental milestones way ahead of schedule. She'll do great in kindergarten. I'm going to get another drink. Be right back."

When these type of conversationalists are challenged, their stories and claims often just get bigger and wilder. Feel free to concede and go get a drink. Also, you don't really need to 'be right back'.

2. Re-Direct

Think of all the amazing things about Thanksgiving: the food, the weather, the football, the food, family, the food. Anytime you feel a conversation or situation escalating, re-direct the attention of those involved to the food.

  • "Aunt Janet may still be unemployed but I think she could start her own sweet potato pie business. Isn't this pie amazing Uncle Trent?"
  • "I'm not worried about Emily's deadbeat boyfriend completing college; I'm worried about him eating all the party potatoes! Aren't these potatoes awesome dad?"
  • "Seriously grandma, if pop wants to go to the office on Thanksgiving, I'm fine with it. It just means I get more of your fantastic dinner rolls. Can I have some more please?"

3. Be Louder

This is sometimes risky but it often works. When redirecting, make sure your comment is a bit louder than is socially acceptable. This does one of two things:

  • It punctuates the entire conversation, letting everyone else know that they can move on to a new subject.
  • It just makes people avoid talking to you. If this is what you're going for, increased volume can help without directly offending anyone.
  • This is mostly useful when redirecting to football. It's easy for others to understand you were just excited that Matthew Stafford just threw the game winning touchdown.

4. Run Errands

There is always something that needs to be picked-up from the store. Extra bread, some more butter, juice boxes for the kids, etc. If you don't really feel like managing others or taking the high road, volunteer to run into town or walk to the store and pick up some extra stuff. If you really want to help, remove an instigator from the family crowd and take him or her with you.

  • "Hey Zeke, want to head to the store with me? Help me pick out some more beer?"
  • "Martha, how about we run into town real quick, pick up some stuff for dinner."

When running errands with an instigator, be sure to direct conversation away from all other family members, or at least keep it positive (redirect to the food, etc.).

These are just a few simple strategies that may help you maintain a calm family atmosphere over the holidays. Keep referencing this list and do your best to avoid arguments during Thanksgiving.

Young Couple Arguing
Credit: photostock