Just for a moment, that is. While there might be no doubt in the minds of those around the table that the story they are telling is well beyond humanly possible, why spoil the fun? Let them have their chance to say what they want to say, listen, and then try to direct the conversation elsewhere once they are done.
If your family includes a martyr, offer up your sympathies to their sacrifices and give them the gift of indulgence this holiday season. Often times, all they want is to be heard and acknowledged. The best way to do that is by saying, “You deserve a break." And, if you are anything like me, keep the sarcasm to a minimum, this is serious stuff.
Especially frustrating to those who lead a private life, the busybody in every family is relentless and always listening for news. In a small group, feign indecision or ignorance if their questions cross the line, or let them know that it’s your business, not theirs. Better yet, approach the nosy person in a group where the conversation can be diverted away from their fact-finding mission.
Assigned seating is the best defense against the potential for conflict at the table. It not only allows you to arrange your guests by temperament, but it also ensures that everyone at the table has someone seated next to them that they will enjoy.
Adding friends to an otherwise family-filled gathering almost always ensures that everyone will be on their best behavior, downplays any family conflict, and provides ample opportunity forconversation. Plus, it allows you to share the holidays with your closest friends.
We all have that happy, clappy relative who slaps on that Stepford wife-smile and wants nothing more than to host the kind of family celebration that one only reads about in stories. Resist rolling your eyes in front of them and give them a moment to bring in the holiday cheer. Then, find the humor in their holiday attire and try to let their good spirits rub off on you… even if it’s just for a moment.
Hard as we try, we all regress to our teenage selves when we are around our siblings. Resist the urge to still point out all your brother’s faults, even when he’s 40 and you’re 50. Mind your business and don’t pick fights for the sake of everyone at the table.
Adrunken family memberis sure to destroy all hope for a happy gathering for all. Where possible, keep the cocktail hour short and pre-meal drinks to a minimum. Save the strong stuff for when you have a full stomach.