How to Survive Family Gatherings

Holiday stressAre you wondering how to survive the stress and chaos caused by family gatherings? Many of these events are blessed with love, caring and fun while others are dreaded. Focus on what you can control – like yourself. You will never change another person so stop trying. Here is a starter list of tips to help you to survive family gatherings. I would like to hear from you on what works and even what you’ve tried that didn’t work!

  • Surround yourself with upbeat people. You do create your own environment.
  • Immediately address any issues. They will only get worse.
  • Build relationships with everyone.
  • Don’t get mad. Stay in control. Take personal responsibility.
  • Never show favoritism.
  • Understand how people perceive you.
  • Hand write notes of thanks and acknowledgement.
  • Listen. Ask questions. And listen more.
  • Celebrate and allow people to have fun.
  • Know what you really want, stay focused, and be disciplined.
  • Never gossip, back stab or create drama. Never.
  • Ask for help. Leave your ego at the door.
  • Chose optimism.
  • Be gracious to everyone and remember they don’t have to be your best friend.
  • Read and listen to good information.
  • Flex (you don’t have to agree!) to other people’s opinions and thoughts.
  • Figure out what clogs your mental filter and change it.
  • You don’t have to approve of anything. You do have to accept it.
  • Don’t let the minority rule the majority. Speak up!
  • Tell your face when you’re smiling inside.
  • Give feedback. Tell them what you liked best, and what can change for next time.
  • Invest in yourself. Be a life long learner.
  • Stop expecting others to take care of you.
  • Be a role model every minute of every day.
  • Take personal responsibility for everything.
  • Take it. Leave it. Change it. What’s your plan?
  • Choose to manage conflict well.
  • Manage your money. Lead a simpler life.
  • Take a good look at who you have become.
  • Be flexible.
  • Lighten up.
  • Celebrate everything.


I _____________ (your name) promise that I will identify toxic behavior, use new skills in my approach, and NEVER use excuses ever again. I have the strength and fortitude to continue to practice, even after I have failed. I am never the Toxic Person. I pledge to stay calm, and manage my temper. I promise never to take a Toxic Person’s behavior personally or to seek retribution. I know how to keep my power by maintaining control. I create my own environment that nurtures my success. I am the master of my future, my stress level, and my own behavior.

(The above list and pledge are adapted from my book, Toxic People: Decontaminate Difficult People at Work Without Using Weapons or Duct Tape.)

What are your ideas to better manage family gatherings?

Happy Thanksgiving, Merry Christmas, and Warm Wishes for a great Holiday Season!

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