It’s the holiday season, which brings twinkling lights, holiday parties, and visits from family. While most holiday experiences are positive, navigating family relationships can be difficult this time of year. Use these nine tips to prevent some of the drama and truly celebrate peace on Earth and goodwill toward all men, even your in-laws.
Don’t overdo it
In the age of social media, we feel more pressure than ever to create elaborate feasts and over-the-top holiday celebrations. But if you spread yourself too thin, you will feel irritable, overwhelmed and you won’t enjoy the holidays. Instead of packing in as many foods and festivities as possible, plan one or two big items to stand out, and keep the rest simple. It will help your mood and relations with all family members.
Keep expectations low
If you know that your in-laws will never see eye-to-eye on some of your life choices, expecting things to be different will only disappoint you. If you know your cousins always leave after lunch and never help with the cleanup, you will only be setting yourself up for frustration if you expect anything else. Expect everyone to act like their worst self, and you may find someone surprises you for the better.
Avoid hot topics
Religion and politics should be off-limit topics during the holidays, but so often they come up anyway. Whatever you do, don’t dwell on topics that you know irritate fellow family members. Sticking to topics that don’t hit any hot buttons will prevent ruffled feathers and make holiday conversations a little easier. Ask questions about your family member’s interests and everyone will have a better time.
Prepare some activities
An idle mind is the devil’s playground. This idiom applies so clearly during the holidays. For example, holiday dinners are often late, and when young children are told they will have to wait, it may trigger a meltdown, irritating other family members. By preparing activities (and healthy snacks) to fill that downtime, you can prevent some of the holiday frustration and flared tempers. Even adults benefit from planned activities like puzzles and board games.
Keep coffee stocked
If any of your holiday activities take place in the morning, coffee is a must. Even if you don’t drink coffee, you’ll want to have some available for guests who may be accustomed to a cup or more of joe each day. You may also need to pick up milk, cream, honey or sugar if they’re not regularly found in your kitchen. Coffee is a necessity for many in the morning, so keep some on hand to chase away some of the holiday morning blues.
Ask for help
There is nothing worse than a host working alone in the kitchen while everyone else has a good time elsewhere. The holiday season is not the time to refuse help — some guests actually prefer helping out and spending some quieter time in the kitchen. To give yourself time to join the festivities, ask guests to help with those little tasks like table setting, getting the kids’ hands washed, bringing out food and clearing up after events. If you don’t ask for help, guests may not know you could use it.
Everyone has some issue with a family member, whether it is a smoking habit, a particular parenting technique, or the tendency to speak too loudly indoors. Everyone has annoying quirks and habits, but the holiday season is not the time to bring it up. Put on a happy face and try to enjoy the fact that your family wants to spend time with you for the holidays.
Do something just for you
The holiday season is a time to share and give to others, but you can help prevent holiday stress and be in a better mood if you take time for yourself. Plan one special activity or food just for you. You deserve to enjoy the holidays too!
Prepare for differences
Every family enjoys different traditions. If you are sharing the holiday with family members who have different traditions from you, they may have different expectations for the holiday. Try to work in some of your family members’ traditions to help everyone feel at home.
Holidays can be stressful; we face busy family get-togethers, disrupted schedules and differing traditions. But by implementing these nine tips, you can mentally prepare yourself to have a great time no matter the circumstances. Whether you’re hosting or visiting someone else this holiday season, give these tips a try!
—The Alternative Daily