All month long we’ve been talking about the upcoming holiday season and how to better manage family relationships during this time. These 5 tips for surviving family gatherings can be utilized at any time of the year. In fact all of the tools discussed can and should be employed throughout the year to better manage difficult relationships of any kind.

5 Tips for Surviving Family Gatherings

Budget – Set a budget for both time and money and don’t go over it. The holidays are time when many of us overextend ourselves – both financially and with commitments to family, work and friends – causing not only guilt, but stress and anxiety too. Determine early on how much time you’ll volunteer to the food bank, the church or synagogue and to family members. Don’t feel bad about saying no to an event, commitment or appointment. Same goes for spending this holiday season. Set your budget and stick to it. Come January you’ll be glad you did.

Avoid Passive Aggressive Behavior – Don’t do it and don’t accept it. Be clear about what you need and help others to do the same. Ask for what you want or need without being vague or obtuse. Try to pin down others needs as much as possible without being overbearing.

Steer Clear of Politics and Religion – This presidential campaign season has brought out the worst in many of us. It’s nearly impossible to have a civil discussion about either topics without it devolving into name calling and hurt feelings. Avoid these types of discussion like the plague. Change the subject to something less volatile and your guests will have a much better time.

Don’t Overindulge in Alcohol – Nothing ruins a holiday meal faster than an inebriated guest or host. Go easy on alcohol, but don’t be the alcohol police unless someone is a danger to themselves or others. If hosting a get-together, be sure to offer plenty of non alcoholic beverages.

Expect the Best – With all there is to do over the holidays, many of us experience shorter fuses than at any other time of the year. Try to remember that everyone is doing their best, but can sometimes make mistakes. Give people the benefit of the doubt and you’ll be much less stressed out and anxious.