4 Tips to Survive Family Visits This Festive Season

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The festive season is just around the corner, and families across the world are gearing up for fun-filled gatherings of eating, drinking, reminiscing — and, inevitably, some awkward or heated interactions with your more critical or, shall we say, eccentric relatives

We all know how it goes: The festivities have commenced and started off on a strong, wholesome note, leaving you with a glimmer of hope of the evening unfolding free from friction (or full-blown fights).

After all, every family has their quirks, and really - what better time is there to air out dirty laundry than via an impromptu toast speech or seemingly innocent game of charades? 

Whether it’s your turn to host the festivities or are navigating proper dinner guest etiquette, here’s 4 foolproof tips to smooth out the kinks and ensure this holiday season goes off without a hitch:

4. Keep the Convo Like the Refreshments - Light, but Flowing

Of course, at the end of the day, the behavior of others is ultimately out of your control – and is neither your responsibility nor obligation to mediate. Still, there’s some peace of mind to be had by keeping some handy ice-breakers up your sleeve for when the air becomes stale – or fire extinguishers for when the dinner table discourse gets a tad too heated for comfort.

Keep a mental list of ‘safe subjects’ to bring up in case the situation calls desperately for some deviation or guidance. The key is to hone in on topics people enjoy talking about (something about themselves is a great place to start!) while posing minimal risk or taboo or alienating anecdotes.


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3. Resist the Urge to Splurge

If the impending family reunion stirs up all sorts of insecurities and feelings of inadequacy, it’s tempting to spend the extra bucks on dressing to impress or bringing the fanciest bottle of wine to the party. While it might provide a temporary boost to the ego as you ring the doorbell, the buyer’s regret will last longer than the approving nod of your sommelier cousin or fashionista niece.

Of course, it’s all fun and good etiquette to put your best foot forward for the occasion, and bringing something special to share is always a welcome gesture. However, letting your anxiety get the best of you and your budget will only cause an undue headache (and possibly resentment) in the long run.


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2. Offer Your Talents Instead!

Got a flair for photography? Are you hailed for your killer music taste? This might just be the perfect occasion to dust off the old hat and commission your inner creative streak.

If the thought of filler small talk makes you cringe, assigning yourself a festive, yet low-stress task can provide a healthy crutch to occupy your idle hands while waiting for your host to return from washing the dishes (which they insisted on doing alone - a common rookie move when hosting a party). Speaking of which…

1. If You’re Hosting, Delegate Tasks

Whether out of concerns of politeness or the impulse to maintain control, it might seem like the right thing to do as a host to insist on taking matters into your own hands when it comes to preparation and clean up. It’s your party after all, right? This faux pas is not doing you and your guests any favours, however.

In fact, the power of favours is a proven phenomenon in psychology, for both the giving and receiving party alike. Not only does it spread the burden of labor - lightening the load for the host while giving guests a welcome task - but it can actually strengthen the bond between people as it builds a sense of camaraderie and trust. 

With these 4 family-wrangling tips up your sleeve, your festive season will be smooth-sailing, delightful and a celebration all round. Here’s to sharing it with the ones we love!

Maggie Johnson | Greens Steel Lifestyle Contributor