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10 Table Topics to Avoid at Dinner Parties

Decadent feasts, neighborhood carolers, the smell of snow in the air, walking to your mailbox and finding real mail in it: There are a lot of reasons to love the holiday season. But holiday gatherings are one festive staple that people fear almost as much as they love. For every old friend you get to catch up with, it seems like there's an uncle asking what you did that drove your last boyfriend away. Navigating holiday conversations can be tricky, whether you're with friends, relatives or co-workers. So before you find yourself arguing about evolution while under the influence of eggnog, here are ten topics (besides religion and politics, of course!) to steer clear of while indulging in the holiday buffet. (Set yourself up for success with these Healthy Holiday Recipes to Please the Whole Family, too.)

 

Vaccines
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It seems that there are only two options in the vaccine debate these days: You're either a needle-wielding government dupe or an uneducated child killer. But the funny thing about this harsh dichotomy is that a new study has found that arguing about vaccination may backfire, especially if you try and bring science into it. The more you talk, the less people trust you and are willing to listen to you. So quietly get your own flu shot (or not) and let other people's doctors deal with this one.

Someone Else's Weight
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Uncle Jay gained a lot of weight, cousin Jill has dropped six dress sizes: Of course you noticed. It's still not your business. These days, people are more sensitive about their weight than almost any other aspect of themselves—so even something you mean as complimentary can feel hurtful. Stick to positive comments about their overall look or health. And if you're really just "concern trolling" (it's the new backhanded compliment), then don't say anything at all. 

Someone Else's Fertility
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It's not just celebrities on "bump watch" who get food babies mistaken for human babies. Whether it's post-meal bloat, pre-menstrual madness, or a few extra pounds from stress-eating through the most wonderful time of the year, there are numerous reasons for a belly pooch—and very rarely will it be the nine-month variety. Repeat after me: I will not ask a woman if she's pregnant unless I see her with a tiny human between her knees. 

Global Warming
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Sure, it's been scientifically established that global climate change is happening, but if you have a coworker that's unwilling to accept the eventuality of our mass extinction at some point, making a diagram for them out of mashed potatoes and gravy won't convince them.

Bill Cosby
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Bill Cosby has been publicly accused of sexual assault by nearly two dozen women, all with such shockingly similar stories it's hard to believe they're not legit. Yet we all grew up with The Cosby Show, Fat Albert and those awesome Jell-O commercials. So while this all plays out, give people a break while they process what "America's dad" might have done to our sisters.

That Gross Thing You Saw in the Gym Locker Room
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Gyms can be hotbeds of grossness. All that locker room nudity can make for some seriously funny situations. But if it involves a stranger's pubic hair, don't bring it up, no matter how hilarious. And please, please don't break out the cellphone pics—or at least wait until after all the food is put away.

Your Workout Playlist
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No one cares that Josh Groban's "You Raise Me Up" is the only thing that helps you power through a weight set. Workout playlists are as individual as how you do your ponytail. Sure it all kind of ends up the same—earbuds in place, hair out of face—but we all have our own unique quirks and needs. Listening to someone go through their iPod song by song is as exciting as your grandmother's insistence on unwrapping gifts without disturbing the tape or tearing the paper so it can be reused. (But on your own time, you really should download these 10 David Guetta Songs for your next workout.)

Your New Diet
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Diets are the new religion. Whether you're paleo or low-carb (nope, they're not the same thing) or vegetarian or vegan (again, not the same thing), or even a fruititarian (yes, that is a thing), something about starting a new diet makes some people downright evangelical. There's a time and a place to wax poetic about calories, nutrient density and acceptable sources of protein, but the holiday family dinner isn't it. Same goes for your personal weight loss or weight gain. That is, unless someone asks you about it—then go forth sharing the good word.

The Commando-at-the-Gym Debate
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Are tight spandex pants meant to be worn commando? What about running shorts with built-in liner? It may be a hot topic, but what you do with your privates in a public space should probably be kept, well, private. Plus, if your family or friends have worked out with, you they probably already know. Maybe more than they want to. (Haven't decided what side you're on? Read Can Underwear Make or Break Your Workout?)

Estate Planning
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While it's great to think ahead and be prepared, calling dibs on your great-aunt's china when she croaks is not cool when you're eating off said china with said aunt. Enough said.

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