Topics to avoid talking about at the Christmas table this year

A young couple offended at each other after quarrel  during celebration of Christmas at home
There are some topics that might lead to petty disagreements over Christmas dinner... (Getty Images)

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Christmas is drawing near, and soon, Britons will be spending the holidays surrounded by family and friend, as we eat, drink, play games and enjoy each other’s company.

But the reality of spending so much time with loved ones is that, while it should be a time of happiness and creating lovely memories, there will always be some topics of conversation that are considered controversial - and might lead to some disagreements.

For many people, Christmas can be an anxiety-inducing time when awkward questions and situations arise. But it helps to know which topics are safe, and which ones are bound to trigger petty arguments or huffing and puffing.

Topics to avoid this Christmas:

To help you navigate conversations over Christmas dinner as smoothly as Santa slides down the chimney, social etiquette experts at language learning platform Preply have identified which topics you should avoid.

1. Politics, religion and money

These are the “holy trinity” of hot topics that can bring up some rather controversial opinions and heated debates. “Broach these at your own risk,” Preply advises.

2. Personal appearances

“Commenting on someone’s personal appearance is a total no-go,” the experts warn. “If it’s something which can’t be easily fixed within 30 seconds, such as turkey gristle stuck between your mum’s teeth, then it’s not worth mentioning.”

Angry caucasian hipster girl looking away having communication trouble with boyfriend during date, stressed young woman with crossed hands quarrel with husband during christmas celebration
If you haven't got something nice to say, don't say it. (Getty Images)

3. Eating habits

Commenting on how much or how little someone has on their plate should be avoided completely, as it can trigger feelings of shame. No matter what someone else might be going through, it’s better not to mention it - your only concern should be getting the crispiest roast potato available.

4. Dating and relationships

Steer away from asking “probing questions” about a family member’s potential partner or dating situation, as it can “add extra pressure to the situation, and more than likely isn’t helping any chance of success”.

5. Backseat cooking

If you’re not hosting or cooking Christmas dinner, then sit back, relax, and let the cook do the cooking. Better yet, stay out of the kitchen altogether - it’s best not to provoke the wrath of an already-stressed cook by giving unsolicited advice.

Unhappy senior woman quarreling with daughter during cooking christmas dinner
If you're not the cook - get out of the kitchen. (Getty Images)

6. Family drama

As tempting as it might be to gossip, bringing up past or existing family drama is a “recipe for disaster”, Preply experts say. “It can conjure up negative emotions from the past, or even set people against each other who would otherwise be acting civil. The only time family members should be pitted against each other should be during that post-meal game of Charades.”

7. TV or movie spoilers

Hate seeing spoilers online for a TV show or film you haven’t watched yet? Don’t be the one who spoils it for someone else then. Be sure to warn the room before revealing anything that could be a spoiler if you want to discuss it with others who have seen it.

8. Children

Preply advises: “Whether or not you know someone’s trying for a child, let them bring it up if they feel comfortable. Most obviously, never ever ask someone if they’re pregnant. You could land yourself in a pretty awkward conversation with that one.”

What if someone else brings up a topic that I'm uncomfortable with?

Now you’re all clued up, but what if someone else brings up an awkward topic? How should you handle things then? According to the experts, there are several things you can do to help you get through any uncomfortable conversations:

1. Set boundaries

Figure out what you are willing and not willing to discuss before the big day, and stick to these for your own mental wellbeing.

2. Prepare your own conversation starters

Once you know what you’re happy to talk about, make a mental list of them and use them to break the ice and start chatting with someone else. Neutral topics can include things like the weather; what gifts were received this year; the best things you ate this year; and how your pets are doing.

Joyful members of a multiracial family enjoying dinner party
Having positive conversations at Christmas can make for some really happy memories. (Getty Images)

3. Change the subject

You can attempt to deflect a question that crosses your boundaries by changing the subject, which will hopefully give the other person a hint about what you’re not willing to talk about.

4. Ask them back

Turn their own question around towards them to get them to do the talking, instead of having to divulge your own answer.

5. Take breaks

If you get overwhelmed, excuse yourself from the conversation and take some time to yourself. Some deep breathing exercises will help relax you, and by the time you return to the table, the conversation will likely have moved on.

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