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3 tips for handling those awkward Thanksgiving gatherings

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Ah, Thanksgiving. It's a time for family, togetherness, and … awkward situations?

No matter how close you are to your kin, not every gathering will look like a Norman Rockwell painting. There will be laughs and there will be gaffes.

So, what's the best way to handle the uncomfortable personal and political comments that are bound to arise?

Take Two put that question to Amy Alkon, author of “Good Manners for Nice People Who Sometimes Say F**k.” She provided these helpful tips:

Failing to plan is planning to fail

The political landscape is rife with dinner table fodder, but Alkon says it would be wise to avoid serving guests that steaming side of controversy.

“Politics have no place at Thanksgiving. You’re not going to change anybody’s mind. You have to pre-plan for this, if your family is the sort who is just going to get in a cage fight in the living room. You have to call the troublemakers. You tell Uncle Joe that, ‘look, things can get out of hand and we really want to keep the spirit of the holiday. You’re a big guy, you want to be bigger than this little person who’s going to challenge you.’ And you tell them [other relatives] the same thing.”

Backing out of flaps, faux-pas and fiascos

It’s perfectly normal to inquire about a family member’s spouse or significant other. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to flee this conversational quicksand if there’s trouble in paradise. Alkon says it may be a good idea to have an exit strategy.

“We tend to ramble in those situations. We feel embarrassed and you go on and you make it a much longer embarrassment. You gotta get out of there really quickly. The other person says, ‘Oh, we’re divorced,’ you say ‘Oh, I’m sorry,’ and then you instantly change the subject. And if somebody asks you some kind of question that you don’t want to answer, it’s all about tone and manner. You just laugh and change the subject. ‘Let’s talk about anything but that!’ Don’t go off on the person, because no one will think, ‘Oh, that nosy Auntie Em,’ they’ll just remember that you shouted at Auntie Em.”

Stash the smartphones

It’s no secret that mobile technology has altered the way humans interact. Alkon says if you’re not careful, digital devices could defeat the purpose of the holiday.

“It’s an addiction. They’re all on their wireless binkies and you can collect them in a basket. Nobody’s gonna get the call about the missile launch at your Thanksgiving. ‘Oh, do you have the nuclear suitcase?’ They can all put down their phones, and if you do it for everybody then it’s less like discrimination [than] when you’re pointing out one person being the jerk.”

Press the blue play button above to hear more of Amy’s tips for a drama-free holiday.