You are ready for the holidays. Your house is decorated. You ordered a fresh turkey. You stocked up at Costco. The majority of your gifts are bought. Some are already wrapped. Yeay for you, virtual high fives!
You should be happy. But, you are worried and apprehensive. In your family, this supposedly festive and joyous time usually brings a few sticky situations.
Like most of us your family is not as perfect as George Bailey’s in It’s a wonderful life. It probably is closer to one of the three Modern Family families or the Griswolds.
To avoid getting wrapped up in garlands, here is your survival guide for holidays with your family.
1) What if:A family member asks you an indiscreet question.
You have options.
Reply with empathy and a positive attitude.
“How much money do you make?
“I’m doing quite well thank you, but I’m always open to suggestions. Do you have any ideas for me?”
Respond with humour.
“How old are you?”
“Today I feel like 20!”
Answer with a question in return.
“When will you have children?”
“Hmmm, why do you ask?”
Switch to another topic of conversation.
“Do you have a girlfriend?”
“What are your plans for New Year’s Eve?”
Generally, when you feel uneasy about answering a question, use this sentence: “I am quite a private person and prefer to keep that to myself.”
2) What if: You are hosting and two family members don’t get along very well.
Assign them very distant places by using nametags. Prepare conversation topics and include the whole table in your discussion. If the volume rises, propose a toast or invite one of them to come help you in the kitchen. Be careful not to serve too much alcohol. Offer water and other non-alcoholic drinks.
3) What if: You received a gift you don’t like from a client and want to re-gift it in your family.
These days, with overconsumption and environmental concerns regifting may be acceptable if it meets these conditions. You have to be absolutely sure that the “original donor” will never know that you have passed on his gift. You must be sure that the recipient will appreciate it. The item must be new and unused. The packaging and the original instructions must be intact. The wrapping and note card must be replaced. Lastly, re-gifting should not be done in front of your children. They may tell…
4) What if: It’s dinnertime and many of your family members arrive at the table with their cell phones in hand. You want the real “Facetime”.
If you are hosting, place an empty basket in the center of the table. As your guests come to the table with cell phones in hand, ask them to place them in the basket. Whoever reaches for their phone will be recruited to clear the table and do the dishes.
5) What if:You are contributing to your sister in law’s potluck dinner, you are wondering if you should also bring her a hostess gift.
No, there is no obligation to bring a hostess gift when you are contributing to the meal. But, a good idea to show your appreciation for her hosting is to buy a new bowl and serving utensils to offer as a “thank you for hosting” gift. And this way you don’t have to wait for them to be washed or returned to you.
Lastly, in the name of peace, use these classic tips to avoid family feuds and focus on rejoicing: prepare yourself mentally, think positive, breathe and move on. Remember that it’s only for a few hours.