It’s Halloween, and that means the holiday season is just around the corner. It also means that you’ve likely already begun asking questions like “my family or yours?” While the holiday season is a time of cheer and joy, it can also be stressful when it comes to family situations. Here are a few ways to avoid the seemingly inevitable holiday family drama.
Don’t Take the Bait
Most families have at least one person who loves to give unsolicited criticism to, well, everyone. Whether it’s your mother complaining about your low-cut dress or your uncle criticizing your career path, the key to dealing with this kind of personality is not taking the bait. Smile, say thank you for the advice, and then move on.
Lower Your Expectations
In a perfect world, your visitors would be tidy and helpful. In the real world, you’re bound to get a nephew, cousin or even parent who watches TV all day and never offers to wash a dish. The key to keeping a cool head is to give the offensive personality the benefit of the doubt. Just assume he or she doesn’t realize you need help; and don’t be afraid to ask directly for it.
There’s always a relative who is chock-full of holiday cheer – and is going to make sure everyone else is. If you don’t feel like caroling through your neighborhood or sledding into the wee hours of the night, it’s okay to say so. But compromise often builds bonds, so give the cheer a shot; you might find yourself feeling more festive than you thought possible.
Change the Subject
Got an oversharer in your midst? If Aunt Bertha is talking about her most recent physical exam or if your cousin is dishing about his ex-wife’s infidelities, don’t be afraid to politely change the subject. Chances are everyone else at the table will thank you.
Strategic Table Setting
Got a couple colliding personalities coming over for dinner? Make a strategic seating plan and stick to it; if Uncle Ralph and Aunt Mildred can’t keep themselves from debating politics, seat them on opposite ends of the table; they’ll have to really work for the argument.
Your turn: how do you avoid the drama of the season?