Happy Thanksgiving, now you’ll be forced to spend time with your family.
While you may be excited by the prospect of enjoying some quality time with your family, you may also have some concerns and reservations about dinner. There are — as we have all learned this year — so many ways that things can quickly shift from joyous to horrifying.
But don’t worry, we’ve come up with a couple of unique and effective ways for you to shift the energy at your Thanksgiving dinner table, should things take a turn for the worst. From playing with pets to handy Alexa skills, we’ve got you covered this holiday season. Oh, and, feel free to reuse these ideas come Christmas as well.
Here are the 13 best ways to get out of your most uncomfortable Thanksgiving dinner moments:
1. Call upon Alexa for back up
Things just got super weird, and your family has an Echo or Echo Dot? Call out to Alexa for help. No, seriously.
Alexa now has over 20,000 skills available for almost anyone to use. We recommend asking:
You can also check out this handy article to see the 60 most useful Alexa’s abilities, for even more skills and commands to call out during dinner.
2. Change the subject
This advice is obviously easier said than done, especially when conversations get heated and emotional. But, there are ways to effectively transition from difficult talks to slightly less trying ones!
Real Simple has a really smart and easy to use guide on changing the subject and repositioning conversations — invaluable insights for awkward family gatherings.
3. Keep football on in the background
Even if you’re not super into football, keeping the game on in the background can serve as a welcome distraction at tenser moments during the evening and it gives everyone something to talk about.
Even if you know nothing about football, you can comment on the commercials, make fun of referees, or just pick a team to root for to make the time pass by faster.
4. Play with pets
Pets are meant to be played with — and this is even more true during a difficult time with family. Beckon pets over to you for cuddles and kisses, use a turkey bribe if you must, so that you can enjoy their comforting presence.
5. Discuss the book you read last
If you’re afraid of accidentally bringing up a touchy subject, instead bring up a book or article you read last that you found to be super interesting — and invite others to do the same.
As long as the last books you or your family read aren’t super controversial this is bound to be a good topic of conversation.
6. Play Bop It!
Take a page from the Gilmore Girls, and break out the Bop It! when things get dire.
Bop It! is quite possibly one of the easiest games to play since there’s no set up, no board, all you have to do is team up with someone to play it. And the game is goofy enough that you’ll all find yourselves laughing at how impossible it is to beat.
7. Call or DM Turkey hot lines
For years, Butterball has catered to less intuitive home cooks by keeping its “Turkey Talk Line” open for any and all turkey-related questions. But this year, they’ve gone digital.
You can now tweet, dm, or ask Alexa for help with all of your turkey cooking needs. (And yes, you can still call them.)
If you’ve run out of things to talk about, or just want to switch topics, tweeting at or asking Alexa some ridiculous turkey questions could be just what you and your family needs.
8. Invite a “buffer” over for dinner
It might seem cruel to invite someone to Thanksgiving in the hopes that they’ll create a buffer for you and your weirdo family, but in reality this tends to make the meal much more enjoyable for everyone.
If you know someone who doesn’t have anywhere to go this holiday, or someone that’s spending their first holiday in the states, why not invite them over? You and your family will spend time asking your buffer about what they do, their family traditions, and they’ll be so distracted that they’ll forget to ask you if you’re seeing anyone special this year.
9. Bring some Play-Doh along
Another valuable tool in the Thanksgiving dinner arsenal is play dough! If there are kids at your gathering, they’re sure to get a kick out of playing with Play-Doh, and adults will have fun revisiting this childhood toy.
It may seem kind of goofy, but your guests will definitely enjoy and welcome this distraction.
10. Read off some funny tweets
Make a list on Twitter of all the funniest people you follow, and refresh it to keep yourself amused throughout the evening.
And, if you’re wondering who to follow, we recommend, I’ve Pet that Dog, for some extremely wholesome content, any of these celebrity trolls for hilarious commentary, and the always amusing comedian Rob Delaney. Alternatively, you can always just look back on some of the best tweets of the year.
11. Take a break
There’s no hard and fast rule that says you’re never allowed to get up from the dinner table. If you need a break, take a break. Walk around the block, chill out in the bathroom, or head anywhere else you like for a little reprieve.
You’re an adult! You can do whatever you want — with a few minor caveats.
If things aren’t going great, do what you need to make yourself more comfortable. Sure, dinners can get tense, but you shouldn’t feel like you’re being tortured.
12. Use telemarketers to break up fights
Telemarketers Save Thanksgiving is a website that allows you to send a call to whatever phone you want, that will play a selection a soothing recording of your choosing.
You can choose to have the National Anthem, calming ambient sounds, and positive affirmations, among other non-antagonizing messages play when the telephone is answered.
13. Eat through the pain
Look, we’ve all gathered for the food — and to be thankful, or whatever — so why not fully lean into the dinner.
Savor the smorgasbord of food at your table, compliment the dishes you like, and give thanks to whomever your host is. Everyone loves food, and almost everyone loves to talk about it, so why not make it your mission to discuss nothing but this year.