As we all gear up for the holidays, I find a lot of people are excited to have a few days off, but dreading the commute and perhaps intense amounts of time with loved ones, who can drive us crazy with their probing questions or inappropriate comments.  The reality is, only those dearest to us can take such liberties with us that the rest of the world wouldn’t dare try.  But rather than just grin and bear it, here are 5 tips to make for a more enjoyable holiday with your family:

1. Set Your Own Boundaries-If there is something you don’t want to discuss, think about how you will decline to engage in the conversation before it even comes up.  Practice whatever line you want to say a few times, so this way, if the moment arises, you have it down like a champ.  I suggest something short and sweet like “I really don’t want to talk about that right now.”

2. Take a Time Out– If you feel yourself getting upset or on edge, don’t reach for the booze.  Instead, go for a walk, bike ride, or run.  If that’s not your style, then say you need to take a nap or bring a good book and go to a quiet room for some alone time.  Just as we encourage our children to take a time out to calm down, grown ups should be entitled to the same courtesy.

3. Remember the Good– No one has the perfect family– we are all flawed human beings, but the holidays is about celebrating those ties that bind us, and rather than remember the bad, try to focus on the good.

4. Find an Activity– A lot of families enjoy playing football or decorating the tree while the turkey is in the oven.  Some of us nerdy types like board games, trivia or cards.    Pick something fun that will bring people together and keep things light.

5. Silence is Golden– We all have an instigator in our family– there is always one that likes to stir up trouble.  Funny thing is this– you actually have a choice as to how much power you give him/her.  If you engage, it’s not likely to end well, but if you just stay quiet, you are not giving them any ammunition and they’ll eventually stop firing.  Take the high road, and I promise that not only will you feel better, but everyone around you will appreciate that you maintained the peace.

All these tips seem simple, but trust me implementing them has taken years of practice!  Now, I still can’t control the commute situation, but if you try and keep some of these points in mind during your time with family and friends, I am confident your holidays will be far more enjoyable and less stressful.  Here’s hoping you build some great memories this holiday season!

By Regina A. DeMeo, Esq.