DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Whether you and your extended family are face-to-face or virtual this Thanksgiving, there are a lot of sensitive topics that could come up around the dinner table, like COVID-19 or politics.

CBS 11 asked an etiquette expert for tips on what to do and what not to do.

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For many families, the first hiccup might be whether to be together at all on Thanksgiving Day due to safety concerns.

“I think it’s a very tough one but also a personal one,” said Elise McVeigh, owner of Elise McVeigh’s Life Camp.

McVeigh, who teaches children manners, etiquette and life skills, said one option is to compromise.

“Let’s think of some alternatives,” she said. “‘How about we meet you in the park and we social distance for an hour or two on Thanksgiving Day? Or we can go outside in our backyard?'”

She suggested weighing the mental health of isolated loved ones while avoiding COVID-shaming.

If you make the decision to avoid being in-person, she said, stand your ground.

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“Just say, ‘I’m sorry, but this is what I think is best for me, and I know that this going to be over soon, and I hope that next Thanksgiving, it’ll all be back to how it was.'”

Regardless of how Thanksgiving looks, conversations can take an uncomfortable turn.

McVeigh said there are three topics to avoid.

“Racy, inappropriate things, politics and religion, and those are tried and true that we should all stick with, I think,” she said.

She suggested setting ground rules if necessary. If that doesn’t work, try bringing the conversation back to common ground.

“So maybe change the subject and say, ‘Let’s talk about what we’re actually grateful for.'”


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