5 Solid Gold Solutions for Stress Free Family Holidays

Screen Shot 2013-11-19 at 12.34.14 AMWarning: this post is NOT for you if your Thanksgiving gatherings are blissful bonanzas of gratitude and family harmony. 

However, if your holiday gatherings always stress you out, help is here.

If you’re more Family Vacation than Braverman, read on. I’ve got some goods for you.

Melissa deals with a cruel cousin every time the family gets together. Because it’s a special occasion and everyone’s watching, she feels like she has to stay quiet and take it.

Justin’s family gatherings usually end in drunken fist fights.

Last year ,Timothy’s sister-in-law made family t-shirts with everyone’s name on them arranged in the shape of a turkey, but she spelled Timothy’s name wrong.

5 solid gold solutions for holiday family cray-cray

1. What’s the worst case scenario?

Before you go, think through the stressful events that will likely happen. Instead of telling yourself it might be different this time, acknowledge your biggest fears. Ask yourself if you could live with the worst case scenario. Counter-intuitively, when you let yourself consider all of the worst possibilities, your mind can relax.

2. Problem solve possible scenarios.

When ___ says ___ I can say ___.

If you’re married without kids and you know everyone is going to ask when you’ll be popping some out, think of your answer now so you’re not caught off guard.

When your brother brings up his car that you wrecked 25 years ago when you were learning to drive, how will you sidestep it?

3. Give yourself a time limit.

If you know that everyone’s good behavior deteriorates after 3 hours, leave after 2 and a half. Leave on a high note while you still like everyone.

4. Plan your exit. 

As if you were going on a blind date, arrange for a friend to call you with an emergency. Text her the code word “cray-cray” and she’ll call with her own craymergency, getting you out of Dodge.

5. Dysfunctional family bingo. 

This one is so good. I learned about it from my mentor, Martha Beck. Take your worst case scenarios and turn them into a game. Get yourself an ally to play with. They can be in house or out. This is a game best played via text. Before you ever get together, write down the dysfunctional things that might happen and give them their own square. Every time someone does that thing, give yourself an X.

Aunt Matilde criticizes your parenting-give yourself an X.

Your cousin Bill gets drunk and cries because of his unrealized potential-X

Your mother-in-law moves the silverware drawer to one that is more efficient-X

The crock pot full of green bean casserole breaks and spills all over the kitchen floor-X

Uncle Bernie tries to enroll you in his multilevel marketing venture-X

No more crying in your mashed potatoes. This is your year to hold your head high, have some fun and feel like a bone fide grown up around your family.


What’s the most ridiculous thing that’s happened at one of your family gatherings?




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