Spending time with family is one of the highlights of the holidays. Unfortunately, it can also be one of the most unpleasant things about the holidays if you end up fighting like cats and dogs during parties.
Family gatherings can go from ideal to disastrous in an instant. All it takes is for outspoken Aunt Edna to insult sensitive Cousin Amy's outfit or for Gramps to accidentally drop his false teeth into the fancy holiday pudding your sister April made. Suddenly, you feel like the referee in a boxing match instead of the host of a lovely party.
If this scenario sounds like something your family would do, don't throw up your hands and accept that this is "just the way it goes" when you all get together. Here are some things you can do before and during your family party to help you maintain a cheery atmosphere and send your guests away with good memories.
- Really Listen
You may feel like you have to fight for your turn to speak, especially when you're reunited with siblings who never let you get a word in edgewise when you were younger. The next time you feel tempted to interrupt and "one-up" your siblings, remember that doing so will negatively alter the tone of the party. Instead, make a conscious effort to really listen when someone else is speaking.
- Focus on Similarities
It's easy to focus on minor differences when you're reunited with people you share blood with. But, if you focus instead on the similarities you all have, you'll be more likely to avoid fights during the holidays.
- Decide Beforehand What Topics Are Nixed
If you have family members who get really upset, sad or withdrawn when certain topics are brought up, it may be worth it to nix those topics from the conversation altogether. For example, if your mom gets worked up every time your sister mentions her political leanings, talk with your sister about excluding politics from family conversations during the holidays.
If your cousin Sarah just found out she can't have any more children and doesn't want to talk about it, kindly let the other family members know. The key is to talk to people about any forbidden topics separately before the party starts. That way you won't unintentionally embarrass anyone.
- Change the Subject
Before the party starts, think of a few topics your family likes to discuss. If the conversation starts to get tense or Uncle Bill gets a little too tipsy and says something offensive, change the subject kindly and naturally (if possible).
- Don't Expect Perfection
No holiday party is ever perfect, and that's OK as long as you don't set your expectations too high. Keep in mind that some irritation is unavoidable when you get family members together. But, if cats and dogs can get over their differences and become friends, so can your family. Try one or more of these tips to help your family get along and make your upcoming holiday get-together a memorable occasion for all the right reasons.
Want more helpful party tips from Kineto Media? Here are some wildly popular party games that will keep your guests engaged for hours without screens or electricity.