1. Bring several bottles of wine.
Just can't listen to your father-in-law drone on about his boring job anymore? Good old alcohol, the oldest trick in the book, will help you not to go crazy. Whether you like wine, vodka, whiskey, or beer, bring something that you'll want to drink later. Be careful, though! Don't go overboard on the liquor, or you may find yourself in a regrettable shouting match.
2. Invite a Buffer Zone Friend.
You know that your parents are on their best behavior in front of guests, so bring along a platonic friend to keep them in check! You better make sure that your friend knows what they're potentially in for, though, or your friend will later be shooting you death glares as your mom grills her about her love life.
3. Do Conversation Gymnastics.
When your weird, racist uncle says he's excited for Trump to get into office, and you don't want to engage with him, tell him what's much more exciting is that you're going to get into the mashed potatoes. When he says Hillary Clinton should be executed, tell him a million turkey executions is enough for one day. When he says that 9/11 was faked, ask him loudly if he would like some pumpkin pie, and stare at him pointedly until he gets the hint.
4. Assign Seating Arrangements.
That's right, sometimes you have to resort to this old teacher's trick. If two people simply cannot get along, place them at opposite ends of the table. If you know you won't be able to have a conversation with your grandpa without ripping his head off, seat him far away from you. If you have kids, or little relatives like cousins, nieces or nephews, ask them to make the place-cards. Then, everybody will love their handwritten assigned seat!
5. Take a Walk.
If you feel yourself hitting the limit of what you can tolerate, it is perfectly OK to excuse yourself. Go for a walk around the block, or, if it's too cold outside, just let your fam know that you're feeling stressed out and that you're going to another room to cool down. Remove yourself from the situation and do something relaxing until you're feeling ready to engage again.
6. Play Defense.
If you have a relative who always asks invasive questions, prepare your own nosy questions about their life. Ask them if their son's still on academic probation, or how they got that new dent in their bumper. Hopefully they'll get the hint and finally stop asking you when you're going to get married!
7. Have A Couple Killer Topics Up Your Sleeve.
Did you know that Martha Stewart and Snoop Dogg just started a cooking show together? Or, ask your mom her opinions on the whole Brad and Angelina fiasco. Maybe you have a really good "Would You Rather?" in your repertoire. Whatever it is, come to dinner prepared with one really good conversation starter, and you'll have an easy out of a difficult conversation.
8. Do Engage!
If you feel up to it, task yourself with having a patient, calm conversation with a relative about your differing opinions. Listen to them, don't interrupt, then give a thoughtful rundown of your side. Tell them you really enjoyed hearing their perspective, and that you'll give their ideas further thought. Ask them to give your ideas some serious thought too, and to deeply evaluate their own beliefs.
9. Plan Some Time For Yourself.
Trust us, after a whole evening with your family, you'll need to de-stress, whatever that may mean to you. To some, it means spending Friday on the couch in pajamas with some tea and your favorite movies. To others, it means waking up early to get down to some serious online shopping done. Maybe it's a massage at the spa, or a facial. Whatever it is that floats your boat, you need to make time for it.
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