Not everyone loves family get-togethers. In fact, some people feel obliged to attend family functions just like the family members in the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding. If you’re dreading the holidays because you and your extended family just don’t get along that well – then this article is definitely for you!
I really enjoy having family over for dinner, so much so that I look for reasons to have dinner parties. However, one of my American girlfriends doesn’t have such a great relationship with her extended family. So when she hosts holiday gatherings, it’s a chore for her. With Thanksgiving right around the corner, I figured I’d share with you some of the things that my girlfriend does to help her survive the holiday get-togethers.
- Prepare in advance to reduce stress. Do as much preparation as you can in advance. If you’re not stressed out over food preparations and making sure the house is in order, you’re already in a better frame of mind to survive the holiday dinner.
- Set ground rules. Decide up front what acceptable behavior is and what it is not. It’s your house so you get to make the rules. Be sure that the ground rules address the big stuff and not minor issues that would be better left for some other time. Determine the things that you just will not tolerate and decide in advance what you will do if the rule is broken. Share this with your guests in a kind way so that everyone knows the boundaries up front. Do people break the rules? Sure they do. But it’s up to you to know in advance how you’re going to handle the infractions.
- Change your expectations. I learned a long time ago that the only person that you can control is yourself. So, don’t go into the holiday celebration expecting people to interact a certain way. Sure, have limits and ground rules, but know that you can’t control other people’s behavior. You get to choose how you react, but you can’t control the person. When you’re okay with this, you can respond to situations with less emotion and diffuse it before it gets worse. Don’t expect people to act a certain way. This will alleviate a lot of stress because then you won’t be disappointed.
- Give yourself permission to take breaks. If you’re feeling overwhelmed or you’re afraid that you’re going to snap, it is okay to take a break. Go outside for a few minutes. Lock yourself in the bathroom and do some deep breathing. You can even do some quick meditation. Just give yourself a time out so that you can regroup before things explode. My girlfriend says that this works like a charm!
- Laugh out loud. My girlfriend says that when a situation looks like it’s getting tense that she pulls on the humor. It’s amazing how much better things seem after a really good laugh. So if you see the water is about to boil over or water and oil are about to clash, pull something funny out of your reservoir and get your guests laughing. The kids can even help with them. Let it be their task to tell a funny joke – and you’ll restore order again before things get too bad.
- Look for the positives. No matter how bad a person may behave or how crazy the dinner gets, there is always a positive. Focus on the positives and you’ll be surprised at how many other positive things that you notice. Life is too short to sit around groping about all the negative things that is around you. If you make the choice to host the gathering, focus on all that is great and you’ll find that it’s not as bad as you thought it was after all.
Holidays can be a little stressful sometimes. However, if you use these six tips, your next holiday celebration can be much better!