1. Do not raise complex discussions. If they come up, change the conversation. This is not just a celebration but a time for everyone to decompress and relax.
2. Focus on the positive side of getting together.
3. Do not stress so much about the preparations and details – take the advice of Chef Julia Child – if some of the food does not turn out perfectly, do not point it out. No one will ever know the difference.
4. Celebrate the fact that you are not alone on the holidays.
5. Be interested in hearing each family member’s stories – everyone needs and wants to feel valued. This goes a long way to establishing a respectful relationship.
6. Have a separate play area for the children – allow the adults to talk and not be interrupted all the time. If there are teenagers helping out, let them have turns with both the kids and the adults.
7. Do not constantly check your phone for messages; focus on who you are with and enjoy your time with them.
8. Plan some “fun” group time – charades, a group game, having each family member tell a special anecdote from that year; then build that into a permanent family tradition.
9. If someone is still being very argumentative and someone “bites” – take that person aside and help them calm down.
10. Remember the spirit of why you are all together and remind everyone of the purpose of the holiday – they could all be at work after all.