The jam-packed holiday season is officially here, and you know what that means: countless dinner parties with friends and family…many of which are welcomed, some of which are not. All of us on the SBP team can speak from firsthand experience when we say there’s an art to conversing at the dinner table and, well, beating around the bush when it comes to tricky topics. So, in line with last year’s piece on maintaining zen during the holidays, we’ve compiled a list of things you should avoid saying around the table. Just remember: go for LOL, not WTF.
Can you believe what [insert politician name] just did?
Ahh, yes. The classic discussion about politics on Thanksgiving. It’s entirely avoidable but always seems to come up, doesn’t it? Well, listen — you don’t have to be the one to instigate. And if you do, try to assume a neutral POV. The worst thing you can do is claim a side without knowing what others at the table might feel.
You look so ____ !
This is one of those statements where your good intentions can fall flat. For example, if you compliment someone on their weight, hair, skin, etc., you’re essentially implying they looked worse before. See what we mean? It’s very easy for people to twist your words, so be careful with them.
The best [insert dish name] I ever had was ____ .
Here we go, another backhanded comment. Let’s paint a picture — if you go on and on about the incredible Brussels sprouts salad at Scopa Italian Roots, you’re basically dissing the ones directly in front of you on the table. Just keep in mind that you’re not a food critic (sorry). So if you’ve had a better dish elsewhere, keep it to yourself.
When are you going to ____ ?
No one sits around the holiday table hoping to be judged. This is a highly common question among family members that brings up unnecessary pressure, particularly when it’s about settling down or changing careers. You never know what someone’s going through, so tread lightly with the personal questions you ask.
I’m on a diet.
Talk about a buzzkill. This is potentially the worst thing you could say to a chef, especially when they’ve spent the entire day cooking and covered the dinner table in delicious holiday eats. So as hard as it might be, try your best to be low-maintenance, because at the end of the day no one really cares about your diet. Harsh but true!
Do you remember that time you ____ ?
Do not, and we repeat, do not bring up a past, embarrassing experience that has the power to infuriate someone at the dinner table (no matter how funny it might be). Not only does this force that person to relive the shame, but it also puts others in the room in a completely cringe-worthy position. The holidays should be all about gratitude, right?
What else should you never say at the table? We want to hear your stories! Shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s chew it over.