Do your relatives always seem to get on your last nerve during the holidays? If so, we've got some advice that should help. According to etiquette experts Peggy Post, there are three things you need to remember: consideration, respect and honesty. These should help diffuse the tension before things get heated. Here are a few more tips for squelching holiday squabbles:
- Anticipate conflicts. Post says plan ahead. If you can anticipate what conflicts are likely to come up – like the fact that Grandma is still mad at you for ruining your cousin’s surprise birthday party - you can plan a response in advance. This’ll help you avoid the knee-jerk reactions that tend to make matters worse. For example, you might laugh and say, “Grandma, you’re very impressive when it comes to holding a grudge.” And then switch the subject.
- Share the work. One of the biggest sources of tension is when one person tries to prepare a feast by themselves. So, ask relatives to help with the cooking instead of bringing gifts. This way it won’t fall on one person’s shoulders financially or physically. Get very specific about what each person should bring. This way each person will have contributed equally - and sharing the workload is a good way to avoid short fuses.
- Be inclusive. If your family includes people of different religions or ethnicities, include traditions that’ll make everyone feel welcome. According to Post, this doesn’t mean you have to join in any rituals that make you uncomfortable. But honoring your relatives’ traditions can make your holiday gatherings more agreeable. And nobody wants to feel left out, so make sure everyone can celebrate their own way. If you’d like to go further, check out the 17th edition of Emily Post's Etiquette by Peggy Post.