As is the case with every annual holiday, Thanksgiving is a perfect day to take the piss out of your family as repayment for all the years they've been burning you. We are asked to be kind and patient with our kin all year long, so take advantage of the events where you're all gathered together to show them who is in charge now. It's you. You're the fucking boss and they can't touch you.
After thanks have been given and prayers have been muttered, the real main course isn't a bloated turkey but the looks on your cousins faces as you feed them elaborate lies and pull vicious pranks. The sweet spot of a good prank is that it must be both subtle and horrible and it mustn't be overtly obvious that you are in some way responsible for its dissemination. The best prankster—as Ashton Kutcher proved in nine seasons of Punk'D—is merely just a messenger of the pranking.
Instead of struggling through questions about what exactly you do at your job all day ("I BLOG, MEEMAW. I WRITE WORDS ON A WEBSITE, MEEMAW. YES, I KNOW, THIS ISN'T A RESPECTABLE JOB FOR A WOMAN. YES, I'M SINGLE, MEEMAW."), prank the fuck out of them until they are face down on the floor, kicking and screaming for mercy. Happy Thanksgiving to all the evil masterminds and shoutout to all the pear.
Positively gorge yourself on food. Eat more than you normally would on Thanksgiving, and do not hold back on mashed potatoes. While everyone is still on their first course, make sure you have rushed through into your second, and do not slow down until you can feel the seams of your pants/dress/skirt pulling apart.
Stand up, clink a knife to your crystal glass, and say you have an announcement. Push your distended belly forward into the palm of your hand and tell everyone you have a bun in the oven. (This prank works for both men and women.) (Bonus points if you get reactions on video.) (Triple bonus points if you're actually pregnant.) (Gold medal if your unsuspecting boyfriend is there.)
Scandal Factor: 8 out of 10 serrated knives.
Don't arrive at Thanksgiving dinner until you are certain all the guests are there. Pre-arrange to have a body paint artist paint your naked body so that it looks like you are wearing a sweatshirt on top and sweatpants on bottom. You are naked. Walk into the house like nothing is out of the ordinary.
"Who's ready to eat? I brought chestnuts!"
Scandal Factor: 9 out of 10 drawstrings.
A baby is not too young to participate in this prank. Gather your young cousins and family members and have them write a secret of their choosing onto a slip of paper and put those slips into a hat. If they complain or have questions, forcefully proclaim that it is a Thanksgiving tradition started by their evil great-great-uncle who will haunt them at night if they don't participate. When it is time go home, each cousin is permitted to select one slip of paper from the hat and read the secret in the car on the way home with their families. Secrets for all!
What your cousins don't know is that you've replaced each secret slip with dozens of paper scraps that say "Santa isn't real." Bonus: You are now the holder of all your cousins' secrets.
Scandal Factor: 4 out of 10 figgy puddings, who gives a fuck, your cousins are worthless.
Volunteer to make your grandmom's martini. Double the gin. Observe. This will be you in 40 years.
Scandal Factor: 3 out of 10 olives.
The Pizza Party
While everyone is eating dinner, excuse yourself to use the restroom. Pick up the first cell phone idly sitting on a counter, and in the bathroom, order 20 pizzas from Domino's. When the pizza delivery arrives and everyone is aghast and asking who ordered the pizzas, quietly say, "Wow, someone really thought Aunt Nina's dinner was that bad?" Suggest looking at recent calls from everyone's cell phone in order to find the culprit.
Fuck you, Uncle Tommy, you thankless piece of shit. Now everyone hates you and you deserve it.
Scandal Factor: 6 out of 10 pepperonis and fuck you you again, Uncle Tommy.
Bring a Dog
Bring a dog. That's the whole prank.
Scandal Factor: This will really make some people mad, so 10 out of 10 dog shits.
Call me a savant but there is nothing funnier than shoddy magic tricks. When everyone has retired to the living room to enjoy an après-meal cocktail, announce that you have been taking private magic lessons from a 75-year-old magician who lives in Coney Island. Pull out a deck of cards, a rubber chicken, and a saw.
Make it up as you go along and watch your family's faces as they grimace and politely grin through your spectacular failure. After your third failed card trick, hoist the saw into the air and nominate your most annoying sibling to have his or her arm disappeared. "A grand ruse!" you'll exclaim. "I am Mr. Mystico!!!"
Insist forcefully against your family's pleas for you to stop. Cut your own finger off instead because they're being wicked babies about this whole thing.
Scandal Factor: If you actually injure someone, 9 out of 10 ER visits. If not, 2 out of 10 rabbits in a hat.
Show up at a stranger's house and tearfully announce "I'm finally home!" when the door opens.
Scandal Factor: 10 out of 10 falsified sibling rivalries if you can convince your new family to adopt you.
[Illustration by Tara Jacoby]