The aunties, uncles and cousins’ guide to a drama-free holiday 

Gather around! Here are theGrio’s tips for shade-free, clap-back-free gatherings with your family this holiday season.

All right, aunties, uncles and cousins — gather around. Thanksgiving is upon us, and we all know what that means: a table full of turkey, mac and cheese and the potential for some awkward encounters. Whether it’s backhanded comments or borderline homophobic conversation, we all have that one family member (or a few) who just can’t hold their tongue.

While we all know and love the Thanksgiving clapback tales online, the comedic essence of these moments does not always translate into real life and can unlock a Pandora’s box of drama at your dinner table. 

To make sure your Turkey Day is as smooth as Grandma’s gravy, we’ve created a guide for the not-so-woke dinner guests who are prone to a slip of the tongue. Let’s dive in and learn how to keep it real and respectful at the dinner table. 

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There are multiple strategies for having holiday gatherings with your loved ones that are free from shade and negative responses. (Photo: Adobe Stock)


Respect is the name of the game, folks. Just as young people should respect their elders, the old heads should respect the youngins. It is a two-way street. Just because you remember changing a person’s diaper does not give you a pass to speak to them in any kind of way. Also, someone setting a boundary or expressing what they did not appreciate does not make them rude or disrespectful.  

Pronoun proficiency

It’s 2023, and nowadays, people go by a number of pronouns. I know that may be confusing since “back in your day,” everyone was just he or she, but if someone introduces themselves and says something along the lines of “my pronouns are…” do your best to respect and honor that. Think of it like remembering everyone’s name – a small effort with a big impact.

The difference between being curious and nosey

Oftentimes, the holidays are a reunion amongst people you have not seen in a long time. This means a lot may have changed since the last time you saw them. So, when navigating conversations, take note of the things people are not bringing up or talking about. For instance, if they haven’t brought the significant other that they wouldn’t stop talking about last year, don’t call them out in the middle of dinner about it. 

Humor is not a cushion

While comedic relief is always appreciated, don’t try to use “it’s a joke” to avoid taking accountability for an offensive statement. In that same vein, remember jokes are for laughs, not attacks. 

When things get political

Although everyone knows to avoid talking about money and politics in social settings, given the current state of affairs, there is a higher chance that these things will come up. If political discourse heats up faster than the turkey in the oven, practice active listening, seek to understand and allow others to share their perspectives (no matter how much you may disagree). 

Should things get too heated, try a light-hearted segue like: “Speaking of politics, did anyone catch that [insert popular non-controversial TV show or movie] lately? It’s been the talk of the town!” This shift allows everyone to exhale the political tension and engage in a conversation that unites rather than divides.

You don’t need to say every thought

Whether you’re criticizing the mac and cheese or someone’s outfit choice, that lil snarky comment you think you made under your breath should stay in your head. At the very least, save the comments for when you do a debrief with your favorite auntie, cousin, bestie, etc. 

Haniyah Philogene is a multimedia storyteller and Lifestyle reporter covering all things culture. With a passion for digital media, she goes above and beyond to find new ways to tell and share stories.

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