By Mikkel Hyldebrandt

This holiday season is here, and with that your fair share of family gatherings. Sure, they can be filled with affection and precious moments, but it is also somehow the perfect environment for family drama. Who hasn’t experienced those judgmental questions, passive-aggressive comments, and barely concealed eyerolls? So, here are seven tips that will help you conquer the Thanksgiving family gathering (and those after it!).

Offer to Help

Putting on a Thanksgiving feast is a lot of work, so make yourself useful with the preparation, serving, and clean-up. It’s a great way to make your mom happy, impress your relatives, and keep yourself busy rather than hearing about your uncle Jerry’s fishing trip (again). You may need to convince the host to help, but if you insist, you’ll be polishing silverware and avoiding most of your relatives in no time.

Pass On Cocktails

This may seem counter-intuitive, since you’ll probably want to start drinking the moment you arrive at the gathering. Instead, have a cocktail at the beginning and a glass of wine during dinner,  and leave the oversharing and (un)popular political opinions to your relatives.

Play Guncle

Give yourself a break from dealing with adult drama to spend time with the children at the family function. Whether you’ll be introduced to all the newest toys, play outside, or watch a kids’ movie, you won’t be interrogated about your career moves or dating life.

A Little Deflection Prep

Even though there are thousands of appropriate topics that can be discussed at Thanksgiving, somehow it is always the explosive ones that people have the urge to touch on. Prepare yourself with a few deflective answers to defuse potential hot topics. For example, when Uncle Barry discloses how he really feels about the president, just acknowledge that’s how he feels and then compliment his watch and ask where he got it.

Bring a Friend

Bringing a friend has many advantages if you know that drama is bound to be served along with the turkey and marshmallow salad. You have a ride-and-die who you can exchange looks with and secretly judge Aunt Debbie’s new hairstyle with. Bringing an outsider may also improve your family’s behavior overall, so the meal will be conducted somewhat civilized. 

Team Up with a Like-Minded Relative

You may already know who of your relatives will also have to go to the back porch to take deep breaths during dinner. Buddy up and promise each other that you’ll look out for each other; like rescuing each other from pestering relatives. 

Get Out and Go Out

After spending all that time with your relatives, a good counterbalance is to meet up with your friends for a night out to decompress. Prepare an exit strategy ahead of time, like taking home an elderly relative earlier in the evening, and then go meet your friends to debrief all the drama. If the same night is impossible, arrange for a get together in the days after to immerse yourself in a sense of normalcy again.