Editor’s Note November 2016: Does the idea of talking politics at Thanksgiving stress you out, especially after the recent divisive election? We’re bringing back this popular article to equip you with four survival tips.

The rule for talking politics at Thanksgiving is that it’s not about winning, it’s about a productive conversation that moves the whole team forward.

Elaine Mejia, senior program associate at Public Works—a communications think tank fostering a positive national discourse around government and taxes—reminds us that turkey, dressing, and cranberry sauce are, unfortunately, often served up with a “heaping side dish of heated, unpleasant conversation about government and politics.”

Whether it’s the wine or the tryptophan or just…family dynamics, these holiday discussions can go terribly wrong. But with a solid game plan, we can all do our part to keep Turkey Day festive and, just possibly, while we’re at it, make a little progress reinforcing government as our best tool for coming together and making everybody’s lives better.

Of course every good quarterback knows delivery is key—and that means finesse. It’s a reminder that we can foul out too soon if we let our tone get angry or accusatory or defensive.

Anyway, the rule for talking politics at Thanksgiving is that it’s not about winning—or even about touchdowns or tackles—it’s about a productive conversation that moves the whole team forward. (Mejia’s football analogy should get her an MVP.)

I recommend reading the entire pre-game pep talk over at Public Works. But here’s a run-down of the day’s best plays:

Click image to enlarge and save to share.

Original Sightline Institute graphic, available under our free use policy.

Original Sightline Institute graphic, available under our free use policy.

Remember, it’s a time of celebration and giving thanks—no one should have to wear a helmet to dinner! So, don’t worry if you have to punt. It’s okay to just talk about football. As Mejia reminds us, “at some point, it may be time to break out the hard cider, regroup, and plan for the next encounter.”

Avoiding the annual shopping frenzy? Go cold turkey with us this Black Friday.

November 27, 2013