The pending impeachment proceedings of the 45th president of the United States means dinner table conversations this holiday season could get extra heated and dicey. So, it may be in everyone’s best interest to avoid broaching the topic, which risks exposing the passionate political leanings of loved ones.

So, what’s a family to do?

As the saying goes, you can’t pick your relatives. But you certainly can choose and encourage activities that bring people together rather than widen the divide. As you and the brood gather, equip yourself with a solid plan that keeps the peace.

Keep in mind, talking about the weather, once a light, safe-harbor topic, could backfire. Discussing California wildfires, for example, could spark a fruitless debate over the scientific theories behind climate change. Knowing this tendency, if you see news footage of the flooding in St. Mark’s Square in Venice, Italy, you might want to quickly change the channel.

The first step in any successful endeavor is to set a realistic goal: Coming away from the weekend festivities without anyone suffering black eyes or bruised egos.

One idea is to play a game. Try coming up with a new name for the country, one that drops the word “United” in the United States of America. To keep it democratic, go around the table allowing each person to suggest their own clever alternative.

Before or after dinner, you can also play the fast-paced word game Bananagrams, only conduct politics-themed rounds. The entertaining activity allows for self-expression and could likely become a fair-minded approach to spending quality time together while eliminating tensions in the air. If it doesn’t? Hold a regulation wrestling match on the living room floor and keep score. Takedowns, reversals, near falls and escapes all count.

If tensions rise? Flip the bird.  As in turkey. (Thanksgiving is the one day of the year that you can get away with this one.)

Music soothes the savage beast. So, stream it in. Or better yet, make your own. Form a drum circle using common household objects as percussion instruments. The ancient practice of striking rhythm together is known to alleviate isolation and alienation. But be sure to hide the good china from the tribe.

Building crafts can also be a fun and rewarding activity for family members. Martha Stewart built a dynasty, once she acknowledged this fundamental fact. Try building sock gnomes together. The blind, deaf and mute miniature humanoids can actually become an unexpected and perhaps even necessary source of inspiration for the crowd.

Instead of discussing politics, you might try identifying the moral virtues of each of the world’s many different great religions. 

On second thought, don’t do this.

You could eat in silence like monks. Or you can try giving thanks with everyone recounting their blessings out loud in turn. This may in fact be the wisest strategy, since there’s likely plenty of material to go around.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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