How to Survive the Most Awkward Time of the Year

Holidays with the in-laws can cause “too much togetherness” syndrome. Try these tips and take-alongs to make the experience more enjoyable for everyone.

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It’s the most wonderful time of year. Or at least, one of the most hilariously uncomfortable times of the year. Like when your father-in-law tells inappropriate jokes. Or when your mother-in-law drinks too much and shares family secrets.

Kidding aside, it is a joyous time, but potentially stressful, too. The holidays have a funny way of bringing people together, and then bringing out the emotions that stay buried between January and November.

In choosing our mates, we often inherit unfamiliar family dynamics. And no matter where your in-laws fall on the spectrum, planning ahead can curtail the onset of anxiety. Here are some recommendations and practical products to help make the most of family gatherings.

  1. Set expectations around thorny issues (arrivals and departures, sleeping arrangements, etc.; you know the friction points for your particular situation) before you arrive, so that no one is disappointed.
  2. Keep things light and avoid hot-button topics. Tell a G-rated joke or two. Sport an “ugly sweater” or sweatshirt. Be prepared with safe conversation topics. Politely disengage from controversy or static. If all else fails, hit the WTF Button.
  3. Have a glass of wine (or three) to relax. Just don’t get housed and make a fool of yourself.
  4. Understand that everyone has different holiday traditions. Try to find a way to relate, even if muted humor is the best option (reference awkward family holiday photos or in-law memes, for example).
  5. Feel free to step away for some alone time when you need to recharge.
  6. Be in control. Act, don’t react. When in doubt, you can always turn to the Magic 8 Ball.
  7. Share your partner. He or she may be craving some family reconnection time. 

As a bonus, we’re sharing suggestions from KHS audience members on Instagram and Facebook, sent in as part of our latest giveaway  (and be sure to follow us and stay tuned for a new giveaway in the weeks ahead).

  • “Take time out to hang out with yourself. Going solo is necessary so you avoid holiday burnout. Also self care. A mask and a glass or 2 or 3 of wine can do wonders!” – Nataliecrue
  • “Whisky and naps…the whole family loves a good nap.” – Patrickmazuca
  • “Hide booze in garage and drink heavily. Oh, and namaste.” – Kenagain4008
  • “Make lots of sugary treats and pass them out to everyone…if they’re full, they’ll be happy!” – _gracesanford 
  • “Early morning workout. I get home feeling energized and ready to face the day.” – Sk8judge