How to Survive a Family Reunion

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A smooth, argument-free family reunion requires some clever, thoughtful behavior from the host
Dinner Guest

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If you’re having a family reunion this summer, whether it’s a weekend away or an afternoon party in your own home, it’s likely to be a challenging event. At every big family get-together there will be arguments, heated discussions, probably a few tears (hopefully from one of the kids), and also lots of smiles. It will be an emotional time, but there are certain tips and tricks to help you navigate this stressful event, and make sure it goes as smoothly as possible.

How to Survive a Family Reunion

Dinner Guest

Thinkstock/monkeybusinessimages

If you’re having a family reunion this summer, whether it’s a weekend away or an afternoon party in your own home, it’s likely to be a challenging event. At every big family get-together there will be arguments, heated discussions, probably a few tears (hopefully from one of the kids), and also lots of smiles. It will be an emotional time, but there are certain tips and tricks to help you navigate this stressful event, and make sure it goes as smoothly as possible.

Change the Subject

Dinner Party

Shutterstock/ Diego Cervo

Before the reunion starts, make sure you have plenty of random conversation starters well-prepared. That way, when an awkward moment or enormous argument is about to arise, you can sweep in and smoothly move the conversation away from disaster.

Cook Excess Food

Cook Excess Food

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Hungry people are more likely to argue than perfectly replete ones. If you run out of food at a family reunion, there will be arguments, everyone will be blaming each other, and every family member will be grumpy. Make sure you have excess amounts of food to avoid this becoming one of the many points of tension.

Create a Seating Plan

Create a Seating Plan

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If you’re having a sit-down lunch or dinner, make sure you create a seating plan, rather than letting your family members find their own spot at the table. By assigning everyone a seat, you can avoid any clashes occurring, and try and ensure that the meal remains tension-free.       

Delegate Wisely

Delegate Wisely

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Whether you’re going away for the weekend or are hosting the family reunion in your own home, you should always divvy up the tasks that need to be done. Make sure you give everyone something to do, and try to assign something that they’ll be happy with, and can excel at.

Feed the Kids First

Feed the Kids First

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If there are lots of little ones at your family reunion, make sure that they get fed first. If you let them get hungry, they’ll start crying and complaining, which will in turn lead to you being blamed for your irresponsible and incapable hosting.

Get Some Space

Get Some Space

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Wherever you’re having your family reunion, make sure there are excess amounts of space. When the inevitable heated discussions and arguments occur, everyone will need to cool off and escape each other’s company momentarily by finding a quiet place they can go to calm down, away from the rest of the family.

Hide the Spirits

Hide the Spirits

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Allowing family members to drink all day may seem like a good way to create a relaxed atmosphere and make sure everybody is happy, but it is actually a way to make people lose their inhibitions and bring up all the sensitive subjects and no-go discussions which they had previously been (thankfully) too sensible and cautious to start on.

Keep the Menu Simple

Keep the Menu Simple

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Hosting or helping to host a family reunion is stressful enough with all the family feuds, relationship challenges, and highly strung emotions, without forcing more hard work and panic on yourself by setting about making intricate, challenging, complex dishes.

Plan Your Exit

Plan Your Exit

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Whether you’re hosting or attending this year’s family reunion, make sure you know long before you arrive when and how you’re going to leave. You’ll need a good excuse, and a deadline, and make sure you stick to the times and the story so that you can make your way out without upsetting anyone or causing an argument.

Share the Budget

Share the Budget

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Don’t begin your family reunion in a passive aggressive mood as a result of feeling like you’ve paid for more than your fair share of the event. Be up front with your family members about the cost of the party, and make sure that it’s split evenly and fairly between you all.

Skip the Games

Playing games may sound like a great way to bring everyone together and entertain the whole family, but anything competitive should definitely be avoided. Bringing out everyone’s competitive side is going to lead to arguments and tears.

Small Wine Glasses

Small Wine Glasses

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Try to control everybody’s drinking by serving the wine in small wine glasses. By limiting everyone’s alcohol intake, you’ll be making sure everyone behaves themselves, and will be doing all you can to make sure nobody says anything stupid or thoughtless.

Take Deep Breaths

Take Deep Breaths

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It’s a family reunion: There’s bound to be tension, arguments, and disagreements. When they happen, just take a few deep breaths. This will calm you down, and keep you feeling grounded.