How to Avoid Political Arguments at Your Holiday Table

We come into this holiday season politically divided more than any time in recent memory. Unfortunately, we all have those in our families that do not agree with us politically. In this hyper-divisive climate, how can we keep holiday dinners from erupting into food fights?

Here are some tips to keep the peace this year at your holiday tables.

Set the rules ahead of time

It’s your gathering. In the same way you tell people what time to arrive and whether to bring sweet potatoes topped with marshmallows or grandma’s green bean casserole, you can lay down the “house rules.” Remember: your house, your rules – which means you can declare it an entirely “politics-free” day and lay down the law of what topics are strictly taboo.


If a rule gets broken, or if you did not set up rules in advance (and shame on you if you did not) then, if someone brings up politics, and you want to politely avoid the debate, try deflection. Try saying something like this: “I did hear about that, but what do you think of the [insert favorite sports team here] new coach, or, forget politics and sports – let’s talk about our latest favorite movie!”

Toss the sarcasm

While you are tossing the salad, be sure to toss out the snarky and sarcastic comments as well. If your host has declared a “no-politics zone,” do not think you are funny by making comments like, “please pass the im-PEACH-ment pie,” you will only be inciting a fight, and you might get the proverbial pie to the face!

Be grateful

Some of the most meaningful holiday dinners have started with a ritual that can set the tone for the evening. Everyone at the table declares what they have to be grateful for this year. Perhaps it’s your spouse, your kids, your job, good health, a place to call home, or the friends and family you’re breaking bread with. Focus on the ties that bind us, not divide us

Put the family first

Politics is fleeting, family lasts forever, whether it’s your biological or chosen family– Left or Right, Conservative or Liberal — that’s what the holidays are ultimately about. Let’s try not to forget that this holiday season.

What do you do to try to avoid political fighting on the Holiday Dinner Table? Reply in the comments below.

About Cynthia Lechan-Goodman

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