How to Keep Political Tension from Ruining your Holiday Parties
Holiday parties are supposed to be a time of happiness and joy. It’s an opportunity to celebrate the season and enjoy each other’s company. However, during a party, political tension can come up, no matter how hard you try to avoid it. There are ways, though, that you can keep your party from becoming another fault line in the world of politics.
Tip #1: Set the Tone in the Invitation
When sending out invitations for holiday parties, set the tone right away. You can do this without having to even mention politics or one side versus another. Instead, consider these keywords:
- Coming together
You can use these keywords as a basis for crafting an invitation that promotes a welcoming and caring message.
Tip #2: Know Your Guests
When creating your guest list, consider whom you are inviting and how they may interact with others. Common courtesy would dictate that if you are an invited guest, it’s important to be gracious to the host. However, that’s not always possible, especially at large affairs such as office parties or family gatherings with lots of extended relatives. Yet, if possible, knowing who will be attending is important because you can anticipate problems instead of being caught off-guard.
Tip #3: Make a Plan
When planning holiday parties, consider how you will conduct it. Is it going to be a formal dinner or an informal party with lots of mixing? Consider these ideas:
- For a formal dinner, choose a seating arrangement that encourages people sitting next to each other to engage in conversation and enjoy each other’s company.
- For an informal event, try to introduce one person to another when mixing with your guests.
Knowing the format of your party can help avoid political tension by making sure like-minded people are together.
Tip #4: Feature Something Everyone can Agree Upon
Consider again Tip #1 and how you can bring people, even with different political backgrounds, together. For example:
- A performance by a choir or musician
- A speech by you, the host, that is non-political
- A slideshow of the past year, such as family adventures or company accomplishments
Tip #5: Have a Backup Plan
During the party, keep an eye on your guests and an ear toward their conversations. If you detect that a discussion is starting to get out of hand, step in to diffuse it. Steer the guests away from their talk toward other things. With a large group of people, you may need several assistants to stay aware of what’s happening.
Tip #6: Beware of Overindulgence
If you know someone at the party needs you to keep an eye on them and alcohol will be available, be aware of how much they are drinking. Alcohol can cloud judgement and cause people to say or do things they wouldn’t do sober. Consider having a limited amount of alcohol available or even none at all.
But What if People Still Want to Talk Politics?
It’s not unreasonable to think that people are going to want to talk about politics. If you are part of a group having that discussion, you can remind people to be civil if you detect an uptick in tone or volume. Another sign of political tension is when a person is speaking in absolutes and doesn’t seem open to the other’s point of view. This should be a warning that the conversation could sour quickly.
One final thought is that nobody may want to talk about politics at all. In fact, political tension could actually help in that everyone will be keenly aware of political differences, and not want to be the person who ruins the party. All in all, you can reduce the chances for holiday party upset by having a theme, knowing your guests, and planning appropriately.