Holiday traditions often make the holiday season the favorite time of year for many people. Those traditions include:
Picking out the perfect Christmas tree;
Participating in secret gift exchanges;
Baking cookies; and
Travelling to visit family.
However, this time of year can be very stressful for families dealing with internal drama. Snide remarks, political arguments, and opinionated relatives can make this a time of year you want to forget.
If you’re chuckling, you get my drift. If you’re a bit upset, take a breath. No one’s family is perfect!
Here are some tips to help you enjoy the holidays with your family a bit more this year.

1. Make a phone call. Carrying a chip on your shoulder year after year is a burden. If you’ve had a disagreement or fight with a family member, pick up the phone, send a text, or send a Christmas card. Discussing a misunderstanding ahead of your family party can make it more enjoyable or at a minimum more tolerable.
2. Be thankful. Even if you have no family drama, you may still get annoyed with some of your relatives. Consider being thankful for another year together. This may be the only time of year you see them. Life is precious and can change in a second.
3. Don’t be so serious. Sometimes we’re our own worst critics. Maybe things aren’t as bad as we think they are. Enjoy a little humor or a lighter outlook on things.
4. Exercise. This time of year is hectic. Family traditions, holiday concerts/plays, shopping lists, final exams, and your company’s year-end makes it hard to enjoy the holiday season. If you’re feeling stressed and losing sleep at night, increase your physical activity. Getting the endorphins flowing makes a big difference in how we handle stress. Get that workout in before your family event!
5. Be genuine. Trying to impress family members can be stressful and a lot of work. Connect with the family members you enjoy being around. Definitely be cordial to all, but don’t go out of your way to be someone you’re not.
6. Stand your ground. Don’t get tricked into a discussion or situation that’s going to upset you. More than likely it’s the same situation or comment from the same person every year. I had an uncle who always told me I looked healthy (over weight). Realize the game is beginning and simply walk away.
7. Just ignore them. Everyone experiences different levels of stress and emotion this time of year. Things may be said or done. It’s probably not because of anything you’ve done. It’s just them. A smile, nod, or simple gesture can keep a situation from escalating.
8. Plan an exit strategy. Before going to your family holiday party, discuss with your spouse or other family members on how long you plan on staying. As families grow and mature, it’s hard to stick to everyone’s schedule. Consider taking separate cars in case someone wants to leave early or stay late.
9. Think positive. Don’t let negative self-talk get you down. Stay positive and use tactics to keep the negativity to a minimum.
10. It’s about the kids. Unfortunately, I’ve experienced family drama during the holidays. While it can be hard to sit in the same room with a certain family member, put aside your differences for the kids. Think about the excitement the holiday brings to them. Spending time with their cousins and relatives creates memories that last a lifetime.
11. Respectfully decline. If the ideas mentioned above don’t work for you. Then it may be best to decline a holiday party invitation. At the end of the day, you have to do what’s best for you. Taking on extra stress during an already busy time of year doesn’t make sense. Consider starting a new tradition that brings you more happiness.