With the big eating-fest coming up on Thursday, it’s important to remember one very crucial thing about Thanksgiving; you get the day off. That doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t work. After all that bird isn’t going to cook itself. However, it’s nice to know you don’t have to go into the office on Thanksgiving and endure all that career hoo-ha that normally preoccupies your day (unless you volunteer to work on Thanksgiving, in which case I hope you’re getting at least time and a half).

Which is why it’s more important than EVER to consider whom you plan to invite over for Thanksgiving dinner. Sometimes we get so close to the people we work with we feel compelled to socialize with them during time off. That’s fine for happy hours and weekly softball games, but Thanksgiving is a time you should spend with people you truly like (weird family members aside, whom you’re stuck with by birth, unfortunately).

So if you’re thinking about inviting a gaggle of co-workers over for Thanksgiving, ask yourself these four questions before you commit to setting a place for them.

1. Is Your Job Political?

And I don’t mean just in terms of liberal vs. conservative (although that can also be a total buzz kill at dinner, IF you happen to host two really outspoken political opposites who can’t keep their opinions to themselves).

Office politics are just as important to consider if you want a tranquil holiday. For example, are you up for a promotion against someone in your department? Have you recently filed a grievance? Do you have trouble getting along with your boss even though other co-workers find him fairly benign? These and other similar situations could make it uncomfortable for your co-workers to share Thanksgiving with you, even though at the office everything appears to be fine. Consider your current political situation at work before you throw open your front door and invite everyone in.

2. Are You a Different Person at Home?

No matter how easygoing you consider yourself to be at work, chances are you’re more yourself at home. That’s not to say you’re trying to hide the real you from everyone at work, but even the smallest nuance could make a difference.

For example, I don’t eat red meat, but I do eat poultry and fish. So one year when I invited a co-worker over for Thanksgiving dinner, she accepted because she’s vegetarian and thought I was too (because she knew I didn’t eat red meat – I didn’t think she’d accept the invitation if she was vegetarian, so I didn’t ask when I invited her). But unfortunately, I’d put chicken broth in EVERYTHING, so she left early to go home and eat.

Same thing can happen with alcohol. If you like to imbibe in spirits, but your co-workers are more of the non-drinking types (or vice versa), then you may want to rethink your office guest list when it comes to your holiday parties.

3. Is “Come One, Come All” the General Rule?

In other words, if you invited one or two people from work, will you have to invite the whole crew? This can be awkward in small businesses or satellite sales offices where there are only a few employees. Even though people say it doesn’t matter, sometimes it really does, especially around the holidays. If you don’t mind feeding a large cast of co-workers, then the more the merrier. If, however, you don’t want to invite everyone from your office, but you’re worried they might feel left out, then think about how you’re going to handle this before you invite anyone. You don’t want to have to endure any weirdness when you get back to work.

4. Will Your Co-workers Like Your Family?

This is the million-dollar question. Do you really want to expose the people you work with to your crazy relatives? That’s not to say you’re ashamed of them, but as Dave Barry once said “Thanksgiving is that very special holiday when we take a break from our hectic everyday lives to spend quality time with our loved ones, rediscovering all the reasons why we don’t actually live with them.” So, for example, if you have an 80-year-old uncle who likes to get drunk and pass out by 4:00 p.m. or a scary-looking punk sister who dresses like a witch and has more ink on her body than road map, you might ask yourself, “How hard to I really want to work on Thanksgiving to make this eclectic group blend?”

Really, it all comes down to this: You deserve to have a peaceful, happy Thanksgiving just as much as the next person. And if you can make that happen AND include some of your co-workers, great! If not, don’t worry. You can always make up for it at your New Year’s Eve party, where everyone is expected to get wild and act like goons.

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