How to Get Through Family Holidays and Survive

a table served for a holiday

Heading home for the first time in four months? If so, you might be surprised at how much your perspective has changed. Now that you’ve been on your own at college, going back to your parent’s house can feel much different than when you were in high school. Even though it hasn’t been very long, you’ve already begun to create your own habits.

While it’s important to be self-sufficient, your family might not be used to the more confident version of you. And, if you’re not careful, your new-found independence may ruffle feathers. By following these guidelines, you’ll be more likely to have a pleasant experience when you go home for the holidays.

Prepare Your Sales Pitch

Everyone, including your nosey Aunt Dorothy, is going to want to know all about your experience at college. Don’t expect that they’ll avoid the most uncomfortable questions – How are your grades? Do you have a girlfriend/boyfriend? When are you going to get a job?

To make it easier on yourself, prepare answers to those questions before you even get home. It should be something simple, easy-to-remember, and cover all the questions that you’re sure to get.

Practice Smooth Topic Transitioning

Don’t want to talk about the love interest you brought last year? Are you avoiding the inevitable discussion about your grade in English? Practice smooth topic transitioning. The truth is, most people don’t want to hear about your embarrassing details. It’s more likely that they’d rather talk about themselves or something less controversial. For example:

Relative: What ever happened to that rash you had last month? Did you ever find out where you picked it up?

You: I actually too busy with my internship at Microsoft. Did you know that Bill Gates really does give out cash to his employees at Christmas time?

Relative: Really? How much did you get?

Another embarrassing crisis averted!

Eat Healthy

When they talk about the Freshman 15, what they don’t tell you is that holiday eating accounts for about 25% of your weight gain. When you head home to delicious homemade pie and all the turkey you can eat, it can be tempting to eat like you’ve been on a deserted island for the last few months. Instead, try to eat a few regular meals each day and browse lightly on the holiday goodies. Remember, you can always pick up a small cooler for a couple of bucks and bring some of those delicious treats back to your dorm later.

Shop Early

Especially if you and your family members are close, you don’t want to spend the few precious weeks leading up to Christmas hanging around by yourself in the mall. Instead, plan on getting the bulk of your holiday shopping done before you head out of town. That way, you can enjoy the time you have with your family doing other fun things, not just stressing out about when and where to buy all your presents.

Manage Conflict

Even the best families have issues that are sensitive. Whether it’s money-related, job-related, or just a simple personality conflict, nothing ruins the holidays more than fights that could have been avoided. In order to keep the peace this holiday season, here is a list of increasingly helpful ways to deal with a difficult situation or topic.

  1. Attempt to transition the conversation.
  2. Take a deep breath and count to 5.
  3. Respond with, “I understand how you feel. Maybe we can talk about this later.”
  4. Excuse yourself to the bathroom. Stay there until you feel confident you can discuss the topic rationally and without anger or aggression.
  5. Take a walk around the block.
  6. Write a note expressing your feelings in the most positive way possible.

Remember: You Are the Guest

Your parents are allowing you to stay, probably free-of-charge in their home. It’s your responsibility, as their guest, to follow their rules. That may mean inconvenience for you – such as not being able to sleep in the same room as your significant other, not being able to smoke, or refraining from certain language – but it’s worth it to show your family you appreciate their hospitality.

Are there other important ways that you get through your holidays back at home? Share your thoughts in the comment section below!

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