The holidays are a time to be with the ones you love. But being in such close quarters with family brings out all the little quirks we tend to forget once we’ve moved out. Family gatherings can become a minefield for cringe-worthy situations. But hold onto your shortbread, ‘cause we’ve got the tips to help you dodge some of the most common family bombs dropped around this time of year.
The situation: Your tipsy uncle wants to know why you’re still single
The solution: Tip him over and leave him to struggle like an upturned beetle. Just kidding (but I certainly wouldn’t judge you if you go this route). Smile politely and tell him you just haven’t met anyone you feel comfortable committing to yet. If he pushes the subject, stick with “I’m happy with my life,” and strike up a conversation with someone else.
The situation: You’re getting a guilt trip for having Christmas dinner at the BF’s
The solution: Family is important, but you should be free to spend the holidays with who you like. Try to compromise to avoid making your family feel neglected. If Christmas dinner is important to them, see if you can spend Christmas Eve with your boyfriend’s family, or vice versa. If you can’t make it work, explain to your family that this is important to you and you’re sorry you can’t make it. Leave it at that. They might be disappointed at first, but they’ll come to terms with it eventually.
The situation: You get an offensive “gift” from a relative
The solution: Whether it’s a membership to Weight Watchers or an anti-aging skin care set, think before you make a sarcastic thank you speech. Think carefully about what their intent might have been, and if you may have given some accidental sign that made them think you’d appreciate it. Honestly – did you make an offhand comment about feeling out of shape, or mention you thought that new anti-aging technology was cool? It may have just gotten lost in translation.
The situation: You didn’t get anything for your second cousin, but she got you a gift
The solution: For the love of Will Ferrell in elf attire, please don’t pretend you got her a gift and “forgot” it. Thank her for the gift and send her a Christmas card (if you don’t already have one for her) with a nice message inside, or invite her out for drinks with friends over the holidays. Don’t feel compelled to apologize if you aren’t that close, it wasn’t expected, so treat it as a pleasant surprise and not a guilt trip.
The situation: You didn’t realize there was a limit for your family’s gift exchange
The solution: If your gift is something that can be split, like a few gift certificates or a gift basket with an assortment of smaller gifts, split it into two or three separate gifts. If it can’t be split, give your fam a discreet heads up about the mix-up. Don’t make a scene, or it might look like you’re trying to pat yourself on the back for being overly generous. Just laugh it off and apologize for the confusion.