Thanksgiving break is upon us, but that doesn’t mean the pressure is off. Here are five great ways to ensure that your participation grade for Thanksgiving dinner is an excellent one:
Ask questions and create controversy
Making memorable contributions to your family Thanksgiving dinner is more important than making constructive contributions, so don’t be afraid to stir the pot a little bit! Ask the questions that will liven up your discussion: why wasn’t the turkey as good this year as it usually is? Immigrants: good or bad? At 1AM, when your family finishes arguing, nobody will remember how often you spoke, only that you asked questions that prompted a lively and rigorous debate.
The easiest way to lose yourself Thanksgiving dinner participation points is to not show up in the first place, so be careful not to oversleep. Set alarms, have your little sister wake you up, or just don’t fall asleep in the first place — whatever works, just don’t show up late to the table. Everyone knows that half of your participation grade just reflects whether or not you show up, so don’t throw away your chance at easy points.
Don’t be afraid to “adapt” ideas
Even at Thanksgiving dinner, politely “building off of” other people’s ideas is fair game. Look smarter than you actually are by claiming everything your relatives say as your idea. You can combine this with asking questions to deadly effect: “To build off of what Chris said, I’m thankful for Grandma for cooking dinner as well, but I’m also thankful for every grandmother across this country who wakes up early to make Thanksgiving special for the rest of us. Why didn’t you say that, Chris? Do you hate the elderly?”
Don’t disrespect the discussion leaders
Calling your discussion leader anything other than “Professor” is the quickest way to lose their respect, and it will also lose you participation points. Why treat your hosts for Thanksgiving any differently? Use the term often and consistently, whether you’re at your parents’ house or a guest elsewhere. Resist the temptation to break this habit; “pass the salt, please, Mom” will lose you points.
If all else fails, just switch out of your section
Whatever you do, don’t force yourself to stay in an environment where you won’t participate. Don’t be afraid to find a different family to host you for Thanksgiving dinner! Pre-registration for new families opens the week before Thanksgiving. (Be sure to rank a less popular family among your choices: everyone loves the Northmans, but for some reason they can only host 19 students a year.)