The holiday season is once again upon us. It is time to bring the family together under one roof to celebrate. It is at this time of the year you may begin to stress out because you know the certain doom that is going to come your way: unattended children knocking the fruit punch bowl over onto the brand new carpet as they scurry around your home, one portion of the meal coming out burnt because nobody was watching it, and you can almost guarantee there will be at least one argument that breaks out over something that happened 20 years ago!
With all of the stress-inducing drama that seems to plague the holiday season, it is no wonder why divorce rates sky-rocket just after this time of year. Instead of suffering an anxiety attack, pulling your hair out, or even ditching your family all together for a nice tropical vacation, rise to the challenge and think outside of the box this year. Over the years, hosts and hostesses like yourself have developed an arsenal of tools that will make the gathering a peaceful time for all.
Minimize The Booze
Family gatherings and booze do not mix. When the alcohol starts flowing, people tend to lose their filter and actually say what they really mean. This can result in pent-up anger and resentment rearing its ugly head. There is also something about free alcohol-infused drinks that make people believe they can handle much more than they actually can. Holiday cocktails are blended with a recipe for disasters.
Instead of using the ‘open bar, drink as you please’ method of serving alcohol, control the situation by offering a cocktail with dinner and dessert. You can show off your culinary skills by providing alcohol that compliments the meal course and your guests will wake up the next morning remembering just whose house they visited the previous night.
Set Up A Fun Center For The Kids
Holidays put kids into overdrive. They are excited to see their cousins, eat lots of sweets, and open presents. What little person would not be enchanted by the magic of the holiday season? Even the mellowest-mannered child can bounce off the walls like a spring-loaded rubber ball! The key to keeping them from running around the house aimlessly for hours on end is to intrigue their creative young minds with some fun projects. Take a trip to your local arts and crafts store and load up on supplies for a fun-filled night of imagination. You can find a wide assortment of ornaments, wood cut-outs, and foam shapes so they can make decorations for the Christmas tree. Older kids can be easily entertained with board games, movies, art supplies, puzzles, or even video games … hey, it is the holidays, let them indulge!
Avoid Overnight Guests
As much as we would all love to save our loved ones the costs associated with hotel room accommodation, inviting people to stay at your home will often result in some form of unneeded bickering. One person snores too loudly, another spends too much time in the bathroom; this can all get out of hand quickly. Our homes are our castles; a place of refuge after a long busy day. Try to keep your home as a place you can retreat to after spending all day with your extended family.
If you are riddled with guilt by not offering your family free room and board, you can always research deals and packages offered by local hotels in your area. Many hotel chains will offer block room rates if you have a certain number of reservations, and your loved ones will appreciate that you saved them some money.
Halt Not-So-Good Trips Down Memory Lane
In every closet there lies a skeleton and most of the time you do everything in your power to avoid going near it. It is possible that when family members socialize for any length of time, things will be said and not-so-good memories will surface. Your first reaction might be to retreat to a dark corner as fast as you possibly can, but this calls for bravery. In the event that you find yourself in an uncomfortable place in a conversation, calmly and politely state that you do not want to talk about the topic. You do not need to provide an explanation as to why and your family will generally respect your wishes.
The Perfect Family
There is at least one at every gathering – the person who will spend the entire night convincing you that they have the perfect family. Their kids are all straight “A” students and they just purchased the newest hybrid car. For some reason, they need you to believe their life could not get any better. What this actually is is a storm waiting to happen. Personalities could start to collide and an argument is sure to follow.
The secret to keeping this storm from coming is to divert the energy. You could quickly spill an entire bowl of gravy on the floor, thus requiring everyone to stop the conversation to help clean up the mess, or you could change the subject and get everyone to start talking about a more joyful topic, such as “Hey, what did you all think of the newest rendition of the Nutcracker?”
When you are armed with a well-plotted game plan, you can turn a family gathering disaster into a joyous occasion for all. Like a good game of chess, you must anticipate your opponent’s next move and this should be easy; it’s your family. By stopping potential disasters, drama, and emotionally-driven arguments in their tracks, your next holiday gathering will be a peaceful one for all.