Health Advocate Blog

Don’t let family squabbles ruin your holiday cheer

Four tips to keep the peace during family gatherings

The holidays are a time meant to be spent with your family and loved ones. But what fun is spending time together when it feels like every get-together ends in an argument?  Below are four simple tips to help you prevent family feuds through the holiday season.

  1. Have a plan for problematic family members. Maybe it’s an Uncle Scrooge, or a cousin Grinch that seems to always be involved when the bickering breaks out. Having a plan ahead of time for how to deal with this family member can make or break how the day could go. Planning family games or putting on a favorite holiday movie is a good way to keep the mood light and cheerful. For a more direct approach, you could discreetly let the family member know, before they arrive, how their actions are hurtful or disruptive and ask them to save their issues for another time other than the holiday.
  1. Set rules ahead of time. If you’re hosting, letting your family members know about certain rules ahead of time can help keep everyone on the same page. Not allowing certain conversation topics like politics, religion, or finances is a common rule, and can help avoid conversations taking a turn to a shouting match. Also, setting a time for everyone to leave can help people from delving deep into conversations that may cause an argument.
  1. Keep the spirits limited. If alcohol seems to be a main cause for quarrels, limiting how much alcohol you serve at your party can keep anyone from over-imbibing. You can still serve holiday cocktails like warm apple cider and eggnog–just don’t add any alcohol, or only add a small amount.
  1. Airing of grievances. If a confrontation is unavoidable, take part in a Festivus-style tradition and have the real problem brought to the surface in a calm manner. If an argument gets out of hand, have the bickering members (or yourself) resolve it by sitting down and calmly telling each other exactly what the problem is, without being accusatory or confrontational.

For Health Advocate members

  • If you’re a Health Advocate member with access to our EAP+Work/Life Program and have issues with stress this season or any time of year, talk to your Health Advocate Licensed Professional Counselor. You’ll receive free, confidential help, and if needed, referrals for additional support.
  • If you’re a Health Advocate member with our Advocacy services, contact us to speak with a Personal Health Advocate who specializes in behavioral health. The Personal Health Advocate can help you identify resources for help.