Family, Self

6 Safe Conversation Topics For Thanksgiving

thanksgiving conversation
Thanksgiving. The word conjures up images of a decadent meal, friends and family filling the seats at the table—unless, of course, you're going to your significant other's for the big day. Then, you picture the same lovely spread of turkey and all the harvest provisions—but this time, you're surrounded by strangers. Or some that you've only met once. (Or some that you're told you've met, but of whom you have no recollection. Sorry, Uncle Dave!) How To Address Your In-Laws
Enter holiday-party-conversation anxiety. Whom will you offend by bashing Tom Daschle? Who'll be put off when you bring up your True Blood lust? And how can you commandeer the conversation so you can avoid the awkward "So when are you getting married/having babies" questions? Rest assured, we've been there—and we've got you covered. Here, six safe Thanksgiving topics to get you through a marathon meal with strangers, and how to prep for the event like a pro.
Subject: Recent or upcoming vacations.
Required Background Info: Find out if his parents like to travel, where they've been lately, etc.—even though you'll ask these same questions of the parents and/or relatives, it's good to have some background info (and subsequent light research completed). Chances are they'll have gone or are going somewhere you're dying to go/have been, and voila you're trading travel stories like old friends.
Conversation Starter: "Aunt Lorraine, John tells me you and Uncle Mike just returned from a trip to the Southwest. I've always wanted to go! How was it?" The Travel Test: Planning Your First Vacation
Subject: The food.
Required Background Info: Find out how much/often his parents cook. Is his mom a culinary genius? Or do they prefer to bring in catered food? Are they vegans or do they hate them? All these bits help to avoid awkward foot-in-mouth food discussions.
Conversation Starter: "Mrs. Miller, these roasted potatoes are amazing. What herbs did you use?" Or "Mrs. Miller, you have the best taste in caterers. I can't believe you found time to sit down and plan the whole event." Are We Programmed To Fight With Mothers-In-Law?

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Subject: Their home.
Required Background Info: Find out if either of his parents (or whomever is hosting) is into big home décor. When's the last time they redecorated? (This is also a great point to talk to his dad—if they've done renovations recently.) Then use the info to talk about how you hope to have this much space someday to design and turn into such a warm, inviting place.
Conversation Starter: "Mr. Miller, I hear you've added on to house recently. How did it go? I'd love to see where most of the changes took place."
Subject: Their hobbies.
Required Background Info: Find out what they are, or if they have any. Then do some research—but not too much. You don't want to have more expertise than they do. Use it as an opportunity to ask questions and express interest in something they're passionate about.
Conversation Starter: "Mr. Miller, John tells me you have a thing for Nascar. Doesn't all of that speed make you anxious?" (Mr. Miller will probably chuckle and launch into a 20-minute explanation of the need for high speed.)
Subject: Their relationships.
Required Background Info: This one is tricky, but essential. If extended family is there, you need to know who is married to whom, and if any are separated or divorced. You don't want to ask Aunt Mary about Uncle Pat if he's off with his "other family" this Thanksgiving. But if there are decades-long marriages, use that time to ask for the secrets to a lasting relationship.
Conversation Starter: "Grandma Miller, what's the one piece of advice you can give to keep a relationship as strong as yours and Grandpa Miller's?" The Secret To A Long-Lasting Marriage?
Subject: The pets.
Required Background Info: If the silences are long and awkward, the family pet(s) are an easy (and safe) conversation topic. The research beforehand is pretty simple: Find out if his family members are cat or dog people (every family has a loyalty). 
Conversation Starter: "Mittens is just the cutest. Have you always had cats? It took years of begging as a child before we got our family pet."
Before you know it, you'll be chatting up every member of the family—and winning them over. 
Have any other sure-fire family conversation topics? Tell us below!