By Mikkel Hyldebrandt

 

If you think family gatherings are hard, try a family gathering during the Holidays! We’ve all been there: After a day with the fam during the Holidays, you have awoken that grumpy inner child and you feel defeated and shattered. But with just a few tips and tricks, you may survive (somewhat) unscathed. After all, you don’t choose your family, but you can choose a strategy to get you through it all!

 

You Don’t Have to…

 

… Take the Confrontation

Even though avoiding confrontation is usually not the best thing, it can prove to be just the remedy for the Holidays. You don’t have to take the confrontation with that annoying aunt or the inquisitive brother-in-law – at least not during this particular family time. Instead, see if help is needed in the kitchen or round up people for a walk to get out of the house.

 

… Serve Alcohol

Even though alcohol may seem like the thing to make all the family dynamics go down smoothly, there is the possibility that alcohol simply changes family members into those people that are not welcome at the dinner.

 

… Make It an All-Day Thing

Suggest that dinner is later in the day, so you effectively only get 5-6 hours of family time. You can also show up justifiably late or leave early by having a socially acceptable reason for it – like volunteering at a shelter or shopping for presents (for your family members of course.)

 

You Can…

 

… Find Your Allies

You know who your like-minded relatives are, so make them your allies and be each other’s lookouts, so no one gets cornered by their respective family foes. For example, save each other from awkward family moments by requesting their urgent help for something.

 

… Bring a Friend

A fresh and unfamiliar face does wonders to better people’s behavior, so bring a friend. If not a close friend (who may already be busy with their own Holiday family crisis), then a co-worker with no plans for the day or that foreign friend of yours that wants to experience a real American Holiday gathering.

 

… Make Recovery Plans

Plan for a night out with friends – maybe even directly following your family gathering – where all the crazy incidents and thinly disguised insults can serve as fodder for a funny ‘de-brief’ among friends. That way you can all shake your heads in disbelief and put a friendly twist on all of it!