When you have a family full of butting heads, the holidays can be a particularly difficult time to get through. What is supposed to be a season full of happiness and love can quickly turn into just the opposite, but it doesn’t have to be that way.
You might not be able to put an end to every spat and reunite life-long enemies, but you can, at least, make get-togethers a little more comfortable for all parties involved—here’s how.
Be upfront about the guest list.
You might think that if your Aunt Sue and her sister, Mary, don’t get along that you’re better off keeping their attendance a secret from one another—but you’re wrong. Surprising people with unexpected guests is the quickest way to stir up trouble. Instead, give them both a call and explain your dilemma, that you would love for both of them to come, but you’ll understand their hesitation. By making them feel a part of the decision, they’ll be more prepared for the interaction and, therefore, less likely to feel provoked.
Bring back memories.
Sometimes all it takes to diffuse a tense situation is remembering the happier times people had together, which can actually be quite easy to do at a holiday party. Encourage guests to jot down a favorite holiday memory they have about another guest, fold it up, and place that guests name on the front of the paper. You can then take turns reading each other’s memories. This little game might not bring an end to age-old grudges, but it will, hopefully, help partygoers think of friendlier times and encourage positive discussion.
If you know that your maternal and paternal grandmothers have been arguing over who makes the better apple pie for over forty years, why, why would you encourage them both to bring their apple pies to the party? It’s a recipe for disaster. Think about why your friends or family members are fighting in the first place, and try your best to eliminate any triggers for their spat to avoid refreshing these memories. Though it’s not your job to put an end to their argument, you can at least try and avoid making it worse.
You don’t have to play mediator if you aren’t comfortable with it, but there’s really no better time than the holidays to encourage your loved ones to put old fights to bed. People are, generally speaking, more open to love and positivity this time of year, and you might be the one who can finally bring some sense to the situation. If you’re not sure where to start, you can encourage both parties to meet in a neutral place where their concerns can be heard. Even if it doesn’t work, you can at least say you tried.
Bickering friends and family can put a damper on the spirit of the season, but, with these strategies, you can bring yourself closer to a peaceful holiday and better avoid the drama this time of year sometimes brings.