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Getting Along with Extended Family During the Holidays

Anytime you get a large group of people together, you are bound to have a blend of personalities that may not mesh perfectly. This is true of extended family members as well. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to keep the peace at your family Christmas party.  

Agree ahead of time that certain topics are off-limits temporarily. Religion and politics, for example, can really get people fired up. These subjects are better left for discussion another day with less family members present. Keeping the conversation focused on family accomplishments and the blessings of the season will reduce the chance of any unpleasantries erupting.

Give each family member a chance to contribute to the get together in some way. Find out what each person’s talents are, what their favorite dish is, or what resources they have available to them. Cousin Martha may be an interior decorator. Invite her over to set the mood for the party. Uncle Joe may make a mean chili. Ask him to bring a pot of chili to the party as a main course, or as an appetizer. When every member must contribute something, they become invested in the party and want it to succeed as much as you do.

The UW CareLink at the University of Washington recommends cutting down on family traditions. It can be stressful to try to incorporate a large number of family traditions, so simplify things by choosing the two or three most important traditions. If you aren’t sure which traditions should be set aside, take a survey of your extended family members to find out.