Is it possible to keep your guests from discussing politics? 

Whether you’re attending an in-person gathering or virtually, it takes only one comment about COVID restrictions or politics to turn a cordial gathering into a combat zone.

If you’re a guest, you obviously can’t impose what is acceptable and what is not. But you can help encourage a neutral and enjoyable conversation.

Declining an invitation is always an option. If you are feeling angry, disheartened, or sad, it might be the best decision for everyone.

For example,

• If a guest brings up the election results: “I don’t think we’ll resolve it here. Let the politicians work this one out.” Or, “I think we can all use a day free from controversy. More stuffing?”

• If someone makes an opposing remark that triggers you: If it isn’t directed at you, ignore it. If it is, take a breath, and calmly respond, “It’s best we drop this topic.” If someone insists, move away from them, change the subject, or use that old cliché, “This isn’t the time or place…”

Are you hosting? Here are 3 tips to help your Thanksgiving gathering from turning into a combat zone: 

1.  Set guidelines: While sending out a list of rules to your guests doesn’t seem welcoming or gracious, this year might be an exception. You can say something like: “In order to make the most of this gathering, I suggest we refrain from bringing up certain topics like, politics, causes, gun-control, religion…”

2. Have an agenda. Does this sound too orchestrated? Perhaps. However, if you have a blended-thinking group attending, it might be wise to have a couple of go-to conversation-changing ideas. In fact, you might send out these ideas in advance.

Share a story about your childhood that not many people know about.

Share an accomplishment.

Share a feel-good interaction you had with a stranger.

What is the first thing you’re going to do once the pandemic is over?

3. Have a ghost-host: Privately ask one of your dearest and closest guests to jump in if they see a conversation that’s turning ugly.

  They can change the subject.

  Disrupt the group by asking one or more of them to help open the wine or look at the new kitchen rug. Anything to break it up.

Illust by Tiffany Sheely


If your gathering is virtual, it may be more difficult to control unpleasant situations. If someone starts getting out of control, you, as the host, should jump in with a reminder, or as a last resort, ask them to “leave” the gathering.



Please accept my best wishes for a peaceful, joyful, and delicious Thanksgiving holiday.

I am grateful to you, the reader, for taking time to comment and share my articles. Thank you.

Related posts: 

Common Guest Quirks and How to Squash Them

Good Day Sacramento Segment: Post-Election Anxiety


Rosalinda Oropeza Randall, Civility and Etiquette Expert, Media Source, and author of Keep Your Distance! Your guide to handling common dilemmas in uncommon times.”


Twitter: @rosalindatweets

Instagram: rosalinda_randall