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Tips for surviving the Night Before Thanksgiving and running into your high school classmates at the bar

The Night Before Thanksgiving (see also, Black Wednesday, Dranksgiving, etc.) — that sometimes-wonderful, sometimes-uncomfortable mashup of family, old high-school friends and enough alcohol to make both bearable — is upon us.

Worried about who you’ll run into and how you’ll deal? Fear not. Here are some quick survival tips.

1. Bring a buffer. This works regardless of whether you’re headed to a potentially political family event or a bar full of high school classmates you’re not sure you want to spend the whole night talking to. They can be an out-of-town friend, a significant other, a sibling, a cousin, or an out-of-town friend posing as a significant other, sibling, or cousin. Really doesn’t matter. But a buffer helps.

2. Come up with *anything* interesting you’ve done this year. “How’ve you been?” “Great! You?” “Great!” “How’s the job?” “Good! Yours?” “Same.” Come up with something, anything, to talk about with those people you only see once a year. For the love of God and good conversation. Please.

Read more: These are the worst spots for Thanksgiving traffic in the Baltimore area »

3. Locate the booze; maintain the buzz. The Night Before Thanksgiving is consistently one of the top nights of the year for alcohol sales in the U.S., and depending on your plans, your night might include a beer or five. By all means enjoy the social lubrication, but remember: if you hit the bottle too hard on Thanksgiving Eve, your Thanksgiving plate could include a large side of veisalgia.

4. Remember, in Baltimore, “where’d you go to school?” means high school. Not everyone you see will be an old high-school classmate. If you’re a local back in town for the holidays, don’t be the one who starts talking about their college when you’re asked where you went.

5. Don’t drink & drive. If you don’t seriously hurt yourself or someone else, you’re likely to get pulled over and arrested by one of the billion law-enforcement officers scouring the road for impaired drivers. Uber and Lyft are bound to be expensive, but spending Thanksgiving Eve in jail costs more, and it’ll ruin your Thanksgiving, 100 percent of the time.

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