HOUSTON– Thanksgiving gatherings should be joyous occasions with family and friends, but sometimes dinner can turn into a debate.

After this bitter election season, politically divided families might find themselves arguing about the past election as they pass the mashed potatoes.

“This year in particular, there is going to be some strong feelings,” said psychologist Dr. John Vincent, who is co-director of the University of Houston Center for Couples Therapy. “Consequently, you get this escalation and tempers flare, and Thanksgiving is ruined.”

Vincent suggests setting ground rules early on, telling guests that politics won’t be argued about at the dinner table.

“One of my ideas is to say, ‘Ok, for this Thanksgiving, we will have a no political discussion zone’,” said Vincent.

Etiquette coach Helen Perry recommends that hosts try to deflect uncomfortable political discussions by changing the subject or making a joke.

“I would segue into a little humor,” said Perry, who runs the Eticool School for manners.

She teaches classes for kids at Berings and advises adults on image.

“You have to realize that no argument is worth a family relationship,” said Perry. “I refuse to let that separate me from family members that I love.”