In a perfect world, surviving Thanksgiving means making sure your turkey fryer doesn’t catch fire; and beyond that, it’s a special, cozy day meant for heartfelt interactions with loved ones. Of course, everyone knows that the post-dinner carnage of the Thanksgiving table is just the physical evidence of what really goes down at family dinner.

What, I wondered, would a real Thanksgiving Day survival guide look like? Here are some tips for your best Thanksgiving yet—I swear.

No one actually likes watching the parade. I am the most nostalgic person you’ll ever meet, but once the Rockettes are done, even I’m like, why are we watching this again? Except my whole family thinks that I am weirdly obsessed with the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, and so they leave me alone to watch it. That’s right. Me, my coffee, maybe a cinnamon roll… and no one talking.

Vacation drinking rules apply. They don’t call it a “holiday” for nothing, so it is acceptable to drink like you would at a tropical, all-inclusive resort—yes, starting at breakfast.

Consider the wisdom of children’s pants. You know your kids’ Old Navy jeans, the ones with the buttons inside the waistband, at the front? And attached to those buttons are elastic tabs? The point is, pull on the tabs to cinch the waist to fit your child’s scrawny little body; but what I’m saying is, Thanksgiving outfit plan: those pants in reverse.

Tequila is a great mashed potato additive. Looking for fluffy, tangy mashed potatoes—everyone’s favorite side? Skip the buttermilk and reach for your liquor cabinet instead. You’ll have Aunt Karen asking for the recipe, not realizing that the real reason she wants to know is because Grandma is finally smiling again.

It’s hard to be told-off through duck lips. Someone riding you about your most recent life choices or the way you voted last election? Pull out your phone and turn on the camera for a selfie. Your attacker will have to shut right up to get those angles popping.

Pick a fight. If a quarrel is inevitable, my advice is to be the one to start it. Instigate the most divisive, explosive argument, and then you’re in the clear for the ping-pong match as opposing sides take off.

Being a vegetarian is awesome. Not to ride in on my moral high horse, but I am a vegetarian. Ordinarily, this is not something I advertise, but it becomes painfully obvious at Thanksgiving, much to my father’s chagrin. But who really likes turkey that much? It’s just a dry, flavorless bird, and everyone is always trying to tell you that they’ve got the best recipe to add a great taste or to keep it from drying out, something that takes hours of effort and runs the risk of burning the entire forest down. Or, you could skip the meat and fill up on those tequila mashed potatoes and Mom’s cheesy broccoli casserole, which are much more worthy calories.

Suck it up; eat the pie. I would choose pumpkin flavored anything before I would pick pumpkin pie. But, people, it’s a tradition. And sometimes you just do things to make your mom happy. So, load it up with Cool Whip and take a big ol’ bite of pie.

What if we actually were thankful? A couple of years ago, when literally my whole family gathered around one table for Thanksgiving, I made up this game where, one-by-one, people drew papers from a hat and followed the instructions: “What makes you happy about this day?” or “Say something wonderful about the person to your left?” or “What made you especially grateful this year?” Instead of devolving into politics or one-upping each other with accomplishments, we left the table with full stomachs and full hearts, and I don’t even care if that’s cliché.