While many people expect adults and children alike to abide by the host’s or hostesses’ rules, sometimes additional strategies must be utilized. Some folks will continue to bring up divisive subjects, even when they have been pre-warned. If your Thanksgiving dinner is cooked to perfection but being spoiled by the topic of conversation, there are several things a savvy host can do to take control of the situation.
If the Thanksgiving dinner conversation is getting heated, smile, interrupt, and ask the instigator to start speaking about him or herself instead. People love to talk about themselves, and most people agree that they are more interesting than when the apocalypse will hit. Be polite and ask the instigator a question regarding anything they are interested in or love to discuss. If the instigator has children, ask how they are doing, whether they are enjoying the school year, going to college, etc. Never mind if the kids are sitting at the table scooping a second helping of cranberry sauce on their turkey. If the instigator has a pet, ask them how the pet is doing healthwise. If there are future travel plans, be sure to bring them up. Ask whatever questions are necessary to get the person to stop talking about politics and religion and to focus on themselves instead.
“Guests should behave—and this often means not rising to the conversational bait. If someone starts ranting about religion, money, or politics, you don’t have to roll up your sleeves. A polite “How interesting” should preface a changing of the subject.”
If you must find another way to change the conversation, because people simply aren’t following along, then suggest playing a game. Have everyone share one thing they are thankful for this Thanksgiving. Add the ground rules that what they are thankful for can’t be related to politics or religion. You might find that some guests have to dig a little to come up with something, but it will be worth the challenge. Just getting your guests to focus on something other than politics and religion can be enough to steer the conversation in a positive direction for the rest of the evening.