Food & Drink

The Dos and Don’ts of Drinking with Your Family on Thanksgiving

Mark Yocca / Supercall

Coming home for Thanksgiving means returning to your old childhood self. You immediately regress into being a teenager again: lazing on the couch, asking mom to make snacks, rediscovering your CD collection and, in turn, your love of 98 Degrees. One thing is different now, though: You can drink. And drink you will when the family starts streaming in, asking you about your life, career choices and romantic prospects. But before you crack a beer or ladle any punch, brush up on the unspoken rules of drinking with your family:

DON’T Be Afraid

You’re not 16 anymore. You’re not sneaking watered down vodka from the liquor cabinet; you’re asserting your legal right to an adult beverage. So reach across your uncle Tim, grab that bottle of Pinot and pour yourself a nice full glass—then offer some to Tim. Just because you’re all grown-up doesn’t mean you’ve forgotten your manners.

DO Find a Pacing Buddy

Everyone drinks at their own pace, but you’re probably used to matching your friends (your young friends who drink all the time), and they probably drink a little bit faster than aunt Edna. Pick a reasonable pacing buddy and monitor your drinking speed according to their refills. That way, you won’t find yourself in the embarrassing position of finishing off a bottle when grandma is only on her second sip.

DON’T Go Straight for the Hard Stuff

Thanksgiving is a marathon, not a sprint. If you’re drinking G&Ts or Whiskey Sours while the Macy’s Day Parade is only just beginning, you’re going to be out of comission by the time canapés come out. Kick the holiday off with a Mimosa. Leave the straight bourbon for the moment your dad breaks out his new hobby: the accordion.

DO Make Everyone Drinks

Show off your newfound adulting skills by mixing up a crowd-pleasing punch or even an old-school pitcher of Manhattans. It’ll be a lot like when you were a kid and insisted on performing the dance from your school pageant in front of the whole family, except this time people will actually be interested in your creative expression.

DON’T Make Everyone Shots

Your aunts and uncles aren’t interested in your “famous” Slippery Nipples. No more explanation needed.

DO Reminisce About the Old Times

After few drinks and a turkey leg or two, it’s time to talk about the good old days. Remember when you were a manatee-obsessed tween? Or when dad got really into krav maga? Or when your little brother watched Toy Story a record 13 times in a row? Grab another drink and settle into the cozy embrace of nostalgia.

DON’T Treat Dinner as Confession

Loose lips sink ships—and ruin perfectly good Thanksgiving dinners. Just because you’re taking a stroll down memory lane doesn’t mean you should unleash all your past sins on your family. They don’t need to know about that rager you threw junior year or the family heirloom you broke one night after coming home after curfew or how you were responsible for the death of Flumf, the family hamster. This is not confession. This is dinner. Save it for Monday’s therapy session.