This post may contain affiliate links and we will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on our link. Read the Disclosure Policy.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year…if you have a family that doesn’t intrude on every intimate aspect of your personal life. The holiday season is chock full of opportunities for family get-togethers and, as a result, cringe-worthy questions. Have you written up a game plan for the holiday dinner table? If not, prep yourself for the five questions that pop up in every family get-together.
1. “So…has he popped the question yet?”
If you’ve brought your partner to your annual holiday celebration, things are pretty serious. If they’ve attended several, then people are going to start to wonder when you’ll tie the knot (or take a knee). Hopefully, whoever asks this question will have the decency to pull you aside and inquire privately (but most likely not). Realistically, you’ll be sucker-punched in front of everyone.
What will you do if you’re cornered at the dinner table? Keep your blushing to a minimum and gain control of the situation by cracking jokes. Humor is one of the best tools in your arsenal. Make good use of it. And if you’re not an improv master, we’ve got you covered with some quippy comebacks for every tone. Try these lines if you want to:
Give someone a heart attack.
“Oh yeah, we’ve been married for a while now. We just forgot to tell you!” You’ll revel in the shock-stricken faces after cracking this joke. Uh, unless you really did elope. Then you probably shouldn’t break the news like this.
Minimize your embarrassment and move on.
“Well, marriage isn’t out of the question, but we still have a while to go.” This will placate your family for now.
Tell the truth (even if they can’t handle it).
“I honestly don’t want to get married.” If this surprises your folks, I’ve prepared a shortlist of powerful women who had no desire to be a bride and did just fine: Queen Elizabeth I, Oprah, Shonda Rhimes…and you!
Throw everyone for a loop.
“He hasn’t, but I was planning on it!” Props if you were actually going to pop the question yourself. If that isn’t your idea of a proposal (and I’m assuming it’s not what your family is expecting), this is a good way to make light of the situation. If you are planning to propose, you probably shouldn’t spoil it.
2. “Do you have a boyfriend yet?”
This one’s for you, single pringles. For some reason, relatives love to ask this question as soon as you appear to reach puberty and won’t stop prodding you until you find somebody. I have no idea why my aunties were interested in my love life at such an early point in my life. This recurring question is particularly tricky to answer when a boy isn’t the object of your affections.
There are plenty of ways to deflect this annoying question, but you don’t have to entertain your relatives. In my opinion, the best answer is a resounding “no.”
3. “What’s your plan after graduation?”
Bonus points if you’re being nagged about pushing back your graduation date a semester or two.
If you’re still in school, then every aunt, uncle, and rando at the table will be asking about the details of your future. Nevermind that winter break is the ever-so-brief calm before the storm that is your final semester and you’ve been doing your best not to have a stress-induced breakdown. Now you’re expected to face your fears in front of everyone and the turkey?
Yeah, doesn’t have to happen.
There are several ways to answer this question, but if you don’t have it figured out yet, then you don’t need to worry. Unfortunately, you’ll likely receive unwarranted life guidance from people who are only in your life a couple days out of the year. Take some unwarranted situational guidance from someone you’ve never met: don’t let it get to you.
Ultimately, you’ll have relatives who don’t understand your career goals or the gap year you intend to take after graduation. Prepare a few lines about what your plans are — and if you don’t have anything in place yet, you can be as vague as you need to be. Chances are, you’ll be asked about your future multiple times.
4. “I can’t wait to be a grandparent…”
Depending on multiple factors, including the length of your relationship and the subtlety of your parents, this question may manifest itself as an offhanded comment or a straight-up interrogation. The form doesn’t matter; it’s still a pain in the ass.
You might feel out of place discussing your reproductive goals as your father is slicing up the holiday ham, but dammit, they brought it up first! Explaining your reproductive plans (or lackthereof) isn’t exactly dinner talk. Your folks aren’t entitled to hear the details. If you’re having trouble coming up with a response, memorize one of these lines when you want to…
“Raising a child is a huge responsibility. I want to focus on my education/my career/my relationship before becoming a parent.” Give this line a try if you know you want to be a parent someday, but you’re sick of being asked about it.
“Parenthood isn’t a part of my plan right now. I’m not sure if I want kids yet, but I have plenty of time to decide.” Considering parenthood? Just as your parents subtly pushed the issue, gently remind them that you need to make that decision. Not them.
Soften the blow.
“I don’t want kids. I hope you’ll be happy with grand-puppies and grand-kitties!” Some parents don’t understand that you won’t be persuaded to have children. Regardless of how often they wistfully voice their desire for grandchildren, you’ve gotta stay firm, even if you want to joke about it.
“I have seven years left on my IUD and I’m trying to make the most of it. I’ll check back with you then.” Well, that’s a surefire way to close the topic for the next several family gatherings. It’s also a solid, honest answer if you’re actually using an IUD.
5. “Wow, have you lost/gained weight?”
For some reason, there are still people who think that asking a woman if she’s gained weight is perfectly fine. I think this demographic overlaps with folks who ask women if they’re pregnant and those who tell women (and girls) that they need to diet.
There are two sides to this question. If you’ve been trying to lose weight and have shed some pounds, feel free to answer with pride. You’ve worked hard, and you’ve earned it! However, I’m also all about women feeling good about their bodies, large or lean. In many cases, this is a very awkward, unwarranted question that girls are asked too early and too often. Although your uncle is trying to compliment you in a roundabout way, this isn’t a flattering topic.
Let me say that any question that makes my body the focus of conversation is a question I won’t humor. However, I will be more than happy to make whoever asked the question feel thoroughly embarrassed. Whenever someone asks me if I’ve lost weight — spoiler alert: I have never actively sought to “lose weight” since eleventh grade — I let them know that I haven’t. Denying that you’ve lost weight or stating that you’ve gained weight seems to close the conversation quickly.
If you don’t feel like answering this question, even in jest, you don’t have to. Kindly (but firmly) let your family know that you don’t appreciate these types of questions and find them inappropriate.
6. “What do you do?”
Here’s hoping that they don’t ask how much you make, too.
Results will vary depending on what you do for a living; if your job is unconventional or you’re working in a relatively new field, get ready to talk. Start thinking of a way to explain your job in Tweet-like form: brief, yet understandable. While your explanation will likely exceed 140 characters, it shouldn’t be too lofty. General is good.
If your job isn’t traditionally prestigious, people may not be interested in an explanation. They also may wonder why you’re still in a role that they consider to be beneath you — and they may have no reservations about telling you. Sometimes, they aren’t wrong; if you’re stuck in a rut, then you may agree with them.
Alternatively, your relatives might not respect what you do. Whether you’re at the helm of a startup, an elementary school teacher from a family of doctors, or working in customer service, your job may be met with skepticism. Dealing with dismissive relatives is never fun, and if their attitude never changes, then you shouldn’t be concerned with their opinion.
When all else fails…
Some questions deserve clap backs (see #4). Others are just plain uncomfortable and may drag on for far too long. I love saying “uh huh” and shifting uncomfortably in my seat as my family members critique my career choices as much as the next girl. Wouldn’t trade the experience for anything, really.
Well, I’d like to trade places instead. When all else fails, ask how the other person’s life is going. You might be able to find a new, interesting topic that you’d actually want to talk about. Or not. Either way, the more they talk, the less you have to.