If you are like many people, you imagine the holidays as the perfect Norman Rockwell painting. Everyone is gathered around the table enjoying a great meal and pleasant conversation. No one is arguing or mad at each other or sitting in defiant silence. However, you would not be alone if the reality of your celebration is not always as peaceful as you had hoped. So how can you ensure that this upcoming holiday season is stress free and enjoyable? Read on for some tips from FirstLantic that will help you make the most out of your family gathering.


1. Set the ground rules

This doesn’t mean that you have to sit everyone down and lecture them. It can be as simple as sending an email prior to everyone’s arrival telling them how much you are looking forward to seeing them and then gently (or humorously) asking that certain topics remain off the table, so to speak.Ask them to avoid some of the most volatile subjects like politics and to focus on topics that make everyone happy and grateful for what they have.


2. Don’t criticize

As hard as it may be to refrain from lecturing your family on overeating or chewing with their mouth full or talking too much, take a deep breath and don’t criticize.Let everyone be themselves for better (or for worse) and make it a “no judgement” day.If you can avoid preaching for just that one day, you and the rest of your family will enjoy it much more.


3. Plan some activities in advance

Whether it is a game of Pictionary or Croquet in the back yard or simply watching a movie together, it is a good way to not only break up the day but also a way to avoid focusing on the petty things that can often cause arguments.Pulling out some old photo albums or videos can also be a good distraction and hopefully bring up some happy memories.


4. Go easy on the spirits

That certainly does not mean that you and your family members can’t enjoy a nice glass of wine with dinner.But we all know that the effects of alcohol can not only lower inhibitions, but it can also decrease tactfulness.Again, you don’t have to call someone out in front of the group if they are going too far.You can simply try to cut it off at the pass with smaller glasses, activities and avoid imbibing too early in the day.


5. Don’t worry about perfection

The happiest family gatherings are usually the ones that are the most relaxed.Don’t feel the need to do everything yourself or worry about everything being perfect.Ask each person to bring a dish or dine on nice paper plates or go out to eat if that makes it easier. The point is that it really doesn’t matter what you do as long as you are all together and enjoying each other’s company.


The reality is that no family (or family gathering) is perfect but that doesn’t mean that you can’t have fun and be thankful for the opportunity to spend time together.The holidays are not the time to air your grievances or hold on to resentment.Use them as a way to clear the slate and start fresh.Of course, this can be easier said than done but with a few deep breaths (and taking a time out if necessary), you may just be able to pull it off this year.And when all else fails, watch the classic movie, It’s a Wonderful Life, as it never fails to remind us of what it is really important!


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