It’s the kind of moments that make you dread Thanksgiving and Christmas. Whether it’s Auntie Nora’s incessant cheek-pinching or Uncle Mitchell’s probing questions about your personal life, they are the moments that make you cringe come holiday season. Here are some hints on avoiding some of these awkward moments.
While we can’t do anything to stop Auntie Nora from pinching your cheeks ’til their red, there are ways to reign in the awkwardness of holiday family gatherings.
Unless you’ve got news that will make everyone in general happy, it’s best not to drop any major bombs. Consider your audience and their sensibilities. If you have any doubt that your news might upset someone, you may want to hold on to it, or at least run it by a trusted family member first.
Try to avoid bringing up sensitive subjects. Again consider your audience. Is your 30-year-old niece still single? She may be a little touchy about the subject. While people are generally keen to talk about themselves, try to avoid intruding on their privacy by asking open-ended questions about their interests and goals instead.
It’s the first rule of taboo topics. No politics, religion, or hot-button current events. Nothing divides a room faster than these topics. Unless your family thrives on a good political debate, try to avoid a topic that could end in someone storming out of the room in a huff.
Here’s a play on the KISS rule: Keep It Short, Sweetie. If you are known around your family for long-winded speeches, then maybe it’s a sign you need to condense your conversations to a few keys points. If they want more information, they can ask for more in-depth questions later, so there’s no need to offer information overload right out of the gate.
There is nothing more awkward than having to tell someone to go home. Try not to overstay your welcome. Unless you are helping the host family with clean up, if you’re the last guests lounging around, it’s probably time to go home. Set an estimated time of departure. If dinner is at 2pm, the Cowboy game at 3:15, it’s not a good idea to still be hanging around at 8pm.