I think we’ve made it pretty clear that there’s nothing wrong with being single. It’s fun. It’s flirty. It’s a great time. But there’s just something — how do I say it? —  really fucking annoying about the fact that when you go home for the holidays, everyone asks about your dating life. Thank you for your concern and overall disapproving demeanor, Aunt Kathy, but I’d rather have a popcorn kernel indefinitely wedged between my incisors than talk about this with you, even less so in front of an audience. So, I’ve come up with a gorgeous list of things to do or say in order to redirect the thrilling chatter re: your relationship status.

1. Start a fight with your cousin about how he’s hogging all of the corn soufflé (seriously, it’s enough).

2. “Accidentally” spill your wine on your mother’s antique tablecloth.

3. Start a conversation about politics when you know there are a whole lot of opposing views in the room.

4. Say, “I think the dog needs to go out” with a concerned look on your face. Then excuse yourself to take the dog out even though you’ve never before taken any responsibility for Nigel, the Lhasa Apso.

5. Excuse yourself to go to the bathroom and never come back. See who notices.

6. Ignore whoever asked you a question and then when they say your name for the 27th time, proclaim that you were in a tryptophan-induced coma. 

7. Shove as much food as possible in your mouth and do the thing where you hold your finger up and make everyone wait while you finish chewing. Also, don’t ever finish chewing. That’s how they get you.

8. Say, “I think I smell something burning,” then run to the kitchen, stick your head in the fridge, and scream.

9. Pretend you’re choking.

10. Dispute a fact that is quite clearly true so people can start arguing with you and tell you you’re wrong. For example, “Did you know that Bill Gates isn’t actually the brains behind Microsoft?” or “They actually misquoted Benjamin Franklin. It wasn’t, ‘a penny saved is a penny earned.’ It was, ‘a penny saved is a penny that gets lost at the bottom of your purse.’”

11. Start reciting a monologue from a movie. Dr. Evil’s monologue in group therapy is a classic if you don’t know where to start.

12. Get up and start dancing on the table while you swing your great-grandmother’s embroidered cloth napkins over your head.

13. Tell whoever brought up the conversation about your love life that they have a little something in their teeth. And do the thX—ing where you’re like, “Nope, nope, a little to the left, almost, still there.”

14. Turn the conversation back on them. “You know what’s actually more interesting — and I think everyone here would agree that they’d like to hear more about — how your cat sweater business is going.” You know how much Cousin Irene loves talking about herself.

15. Pretend there’s a bug on you, abruptly get up from the table, and start flailing your arms. Better yet, come prepared with some fake plastic bugs and sprinkle them around the table for a decorative flair and a grand old time. 

16. Casually mention an excommunicated family member. A tale as old as time.

17. When you wake up, tell your mom that you have a bit of a sore throat. This one takes a little pre-planning, but it’s worth it when you physically can’t answer anyone’s questions. All you have to do it point to your throat and mouth, “It’s sore, sorry!”

18. Print out a list of talking points for the table, and don’t include any questions involving your personal life on it. Also takes pre-planning. Also worth it.

19. Use your fullness to your advantage. Tell the table you’re not feeling so great and that you need a second. Subsequently retire to your — or someone else’s — chambers.

20. Say, “One sec, just need to unzip my pants. I’ll circle back by EOD (end of dinner).”

21. Spontaneously combust.