Family dinner: a soothing candlelit ritual. But not in a cult way. Like in an everyone-has-to-be-there-until-excused-and-one-mustn’t-provoke-the-wrath-of-the-table-Elder way. I know what you’re thinking: how can I fuck this up? Don’t be modest. Ask instead how will you fuck this up. The power is entirely in your hands. Your dinner table is more fuck-up-able than you can even imagine. Here are some strategies to instantly derail for family dinner, with guaranteed results:

  1. Looking to get the job done fast? Wear ripped jeans to the table. How can any self-respecting uncle not share his opinion?
  2. Holiday special! Try this hot take: “Okay, but why is Jesus kind of hot…I would totally smash Jesus. Thoughts?” If you get into serious trouble with that one, just remind everyone that you’re talking about crucifixion-era Jesus, not baby Jesus. Crisis averted!
  3. Looking for a more contemporary take on blasphemy? Try this: “Do you know what WAP stands for?” Bonus points if you then explain what WAP stands for.
  4. Say literally anything about The Washington Football Team.
  5. Leave your phone conspicuously on the table with its ringer on. Works best if seated next to a boomer. It’s helpful, though not necessary, to have friends. If nobody ever texts you, New York Times notifications will suffice.
  6. Try proposing a fun after-dinner activity! Think outside the box here. “How about the men wash the dishes this time?” is sure to delight!
  7. Got to stay updated! Ask your brother if he’s bagging any bitches these days. Don’t forget to remind him of bitches he has bagged in the past. Show that you’ve been listening; list as many as you can remember. And who could forget that pregnancy scare?!
  8. Family members look out for one another. Especially if one of those members is getting a little pudgy. “Easy on the gravy there, Aunt Shelly” is a great segue into the world of nutrition.
  9. Declare the following unprovoked: “Stop asking me if I have a boyfriend yet. You know very well that I have a wife and three adopted children.” Works every time. Bonus points if said children are in attendance.
  10. If all else fails, go with The Nuclear Option. Make sure you arrive to the after-dinner sports-watching on time, so you can kneel in front of the TV for the national anthem.

—L. Broeksmit