The entire holiday season that begins on Thanksgiving, is one of the most wholesome times for Americans, but also one of the most stressful for others, especially when it comes to keeping the whole family and your friends from engaging in petty drama during every gathering, dinner, party or visit to a relative. This helpful guide will help you avoid the awkwardness long enough to enjoy any dinner or formal gathering during the Holidays.
So, here’s how to avoid family drama during your holiday gatherings!
1. Set boundaries on the holiday drinks
Even if none of your guests during a dinner or party have a drinking problem, alcohol tends to make arguments louder and jabs snider. Also, remember that there’s almost always a football game every night, so spirits might already be high and heated. Going alcohol-free might sound too drastic, but convincing your family to set a limit on the drink might just make the Holidays a much more tolerant time this year.
2. Invite unrelated guests
For better or worse, family brings out some people’s less inhibited side – and others’ more defensive one. Bringing in guests from outside the family dynamic can be great for everyone: Your relatives are more likely to improve their manners around people they’re not familiar with, and your new guest can enjoy Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah or New Year’s, even if they are living far away from family this year.
3. Plan out your table arrangement
Problems rarely come from each and every guest at a dinner. There are always key players in the Holiday drama, and it is in everyone’s best interest that you keep them apart at the table. If you took your advice from the above, be sure to place your new guest near the middle – that way everyone will surely feel too close to a new face to make a scene
4. Reconsider table games
A piece of advice that makes the rounds every time the holidays come around, is to include table games or have a jar of “conversation starters” at every dinner. This might sound cute on paper, but stop for a second and picture your family partaking in these activities. Do they fit the scene? If your family’s temper is too hot for organized games, just don’t bring them in. The last thing you want is to raise tensions unnecessarily.
5. Don’t be afraid to ban certain topics – or people
Even if you don’t bring in table games, steering the conversation away from danger zones is vital. The obvious ones are politics, religion, and money, but make sure to also keep out old squabbles, comparisons between family members, inheritance talk, and many more. Likewise, a toxic relative’s absence might just be the difference between another bitter memory and a great dinner with family.
6. Organize your own “peace corps”
Surely you aren’t the only person in your family who wants to keep things smooth at Thanksgiving. Know which of your family members just want a nice, drama-free meal and have them on active peace duty. Place them as buffers between problematic guests at the table, or signal them to diffuse a potential argument by changing the topic. Strength in numbers!
7. Keep difficult relatives and guests busy
It sometimes is better just to make those nagging family members too busy to actually cause any trouble. If you are hosting the dinner, it will be hard for them to refuse to help you – and a couple of extra hands in the kitchen might be just what you need to stay calm yourself. Make them feel useful and their attitude might surprise you!
8. Set a time limit for dinner
If you want a peaceful gathering, keeping guests hungry might not be the best idea, especially if they’re waiting for that person who’s always late. Let everyone know beforehand that you’re serving dinner at a set time, and not a minute later. A dining room full of hungry relatives is a pressure cooker; by serving dinner, you are letting it out, and sending a message for tardy guests in the future.
9. Serve a buffet style meal
If you have the space for it, serve all the food buffet-style. This way, people can naturally sit with whomever they want and have an excuse to get up as many times as they want, avoiding potentially explosive arguments or situations. It might be a nice shake up for your usual dynamic!
10. No shame in skipping it
Let’s face it. Being a good host is a rewarding experience, but exhausting nonetheless. If you’re just not feeling up to it this year, let them know! Don’t give in to pressure or expectation, remember that your only real commitment is to your well-being, and aren’t the holidays supposed to make you feel good, after all?
So there you have, some keys on how to deal with family drama on Thanksgiving, Christmas, holiday parties or New Year’s! And to lessen the burden on you and your family, hire professional cleaners to help get ready for the big day, or clean up afterward.