We all must do it. We are all a part of a family and families generally gather at least once a year. If you are lucky enough to be a part of a family where there is absolutely no tension when you all get together, then I guess you wouldn’t have a huge need to continue reading. However, if you are like the majority where it can be a tense time—here are some important tips to remember when gathering for the holidays.

The first thing to remember is the amount of time that has passed since your last visit. Chances are, things have changed and then changed again—including attitudes. So, let that thought settle in as you look at these tips with an open mind and open heart.

  • Prepare mentally. Think of ways where hot buttons can avoid being pressed and what to do when they are.
  • Prepare materially. Have everything packed ahead of time to reduce opportunities for stress.
  • Time is short and visits are few. With that being said, have an extra amount of grace towards those in your birth family and within their family (kids, bf, spouse, etc).
  • If you have family members who like to tease or “be funny” at your expense, deflect uncomfortable conversations or negative comments aimed at you. Change the subject, ask them something about them or give a little laugh and walk away.
  • Focus on how to make sure everyone leaves a conversation with you feeling better than they did before.
  • Don’t expect anything in return. Be nice without expecting someone to reciprocate. Sometimes, people realize how jerky they are when the person on the receiving end is kind.
  • Develop a signal between you and a trusted person (your bf, spouse, close sibling, etc.) that it means something like: “Come save me from this convo” or “Come tell us how it’s getting late and we better get going.” They work great and take the pressure off you.
  • Have fun! Before you know it, everyone will be old or have moved away and there won’t be as many opportunities. Seek to make a positive impact within your family.

Hope these tips will help you! One very big point to keep in mind is never subject yourself to any form of abuse.