Family Holiday Get Togethers - Do You Dread Them?

That Delightful Time of the Year Is Almost Here Again!

It’s almost that time of year again. That time when families get together to celebrate and enjoy the many different holidays that fall between now and New Year’s Day.

Perhaps you are looking forward to the holidays, or perhaps you are one of those people who dread them, because one or more family members always seem to ruin it for you and everyone else too.

More families than you may think have a family member or members who always take what should be a joyful occasion and turn it into a time to set people straight on the right way to do things, or to voice their opinion on something about other family members that they disapprove of.

If you dread holiday family-get-togethers and gatherings because of family members who behave badly on these occasions, here are some practical suggestions that might change the dynamics at your future family celebration to make it a happier experience.

Do you dread family holiday get togethers?

Change the Location of Your Celebration

1. Sometimes just changing the location of the gathering may be enough to change the behavior of the perverse relative. If you usually meet at Grandma’s house, change it to someone else’s house -- yours, your aunt and uncle’s, your brother’s, or anyone else in the family who may have the required space available, and see if that also changes the dynamics for the person who comes laden with criticism for everyone. They may not feel comfortable being their usual self in less familiar surroundings, and put on their best behavior.

2. If possible, have your family gathering at a restaurant. Being in a public place may be just the thing to put your contrary family member in a better frame of mind and less likely to give the gift of criticism, or to spoil the holiday spirit for everyone else. Your family party pooper may be more concerned with appearances than with making sure various family members are informed of perceived shortcomings.

Include A Non-family Member In Your Gathering

3. Consider inviting a close friend to the party. If you need an explanation for your friend’s attendance just say s/he worked hard as a favor to you helping you get things ready and organized and you wanted him/her to enjoy some of the fruits of their labor. Or arrange for that friend to ‘drop in’ and invite them to stay for the party! Your crotchety relative may be on their good behavior while a non-family member is around.

Skip the Alcohol

4. Limit the amount of alcohol that will be available, or do not serve alcohol at all. While alcohol can help relax some people and put them in a more jovial mood, it can also bring out the worst in some people. Serve punch and don’t spike it.

Do you hate family get togethers?

I came across a website the other day that looked interesting. It’s called “I Hate Family Get Togethers.” It’s a social networking website where people who hate family get togethers can meet anonymously and exchange stories and ideas. If you hate family get togethers, this site may be just what you’re looking for. Just click on "I Hate Family Get Togethers."

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Robert Sacchi profile image

Robert Sacchi 7 months ago

You have a point there. It seems a case of making the best of a bad situation.

Au fait profile image

Au fait 7 months ago from North Texas Author

Robert Sacchi, thank you for reading and commenting on this article. I think to eat and run would defeat the purpose of the get-together, which is presumably to spend time with family on a special occasion. Keep in mind that there are other people attending who may have been looking forward to seeing YOU and your family, if you have one. People who traveled a long way to spend some time with you because they seldom see you due to distance, etc.

And it can be a blessing to others in attendance just to have you there when they must deal with that person who insists on raining on everybody's parade.

Now that I have attained more age I would probably attempt to persuade the sourpuss to leave the usual complaints for another time and instead see if we could brighten everyone's day for the special occasion. No doubt other people have already tried this ploy to no avail, but I would have to try it again anyway. After all, what is the point of rehashing the same-old, same-old for the gazillionth time? It's set in stone and the best thing is to put it on the shelf furthest back in one's mind and forget it as it's only current purpose seems to be to spoil everyone's day, whether they are guilty of a trespass or not. What point is there in raising the same old garbage that is over and done and will never change? If there is something to be learned from it, then learn it, and then forget about it and move on. Stop letting it affect the future.

Robert Sacchi profile image

Robert Sacchi 7 months ago

Good article. These are simple things worth a try. Would you consider it a worthwhile idea to pull the "eat and run" routine? It won't prevent a family member's bad manners but it would lessen the chances of being around when things get nasty.

Au fait profile image

Au fait 10 months ago from North Texas Author

Colorful one, thank you for commenting. Good to know there is at least one person who doesn't have relatives who have a tendency to be party-poopers. Sounds like you're planning a fun bash. Hope it all goes well as usual. :)

colorfulone profile image

colorfulone 10 months ago from Minnesota

I love a family get together especially when I am the hostess doing the cooking and the planning in my own home. I will be doing just that in a couple of weeks and am already planning the menu. I may make it a Christmas theme with gifts for the grandkids to make it more fun and memorable.

Au fait profile image

Au fait 15 months ago from North Texas Author

Peggy W., thank you for sharing this article. Yes, peace would be a great gift for us all to have this holiday season. Wishing you and your husband a joyous holiday season also! Happy Thanksgiving!

Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 15 months ago from Houston, Texas

With Thanksgiving happening next week and other holidays looming straight ahead it seems a good time to share this once again for those people who will be gathering together with their families. These days we celebrate with friends as our families are deceased and other relatives live in far off places.

Hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving this year and that your Christmas and New Years will be all you desire. Let's all hope for a more peaceful world. The news of late has been anything but peaceful!

Au fait profile image

Au fait 19 months ago from North Texas Author

Peggy W, thank you for coming by! I know it's gotten to where I know more deceased people than live ones. ;)

The Texas heat just kills me and after 28 years I still can't get used to it or deal with it very well. If I thought my car would make it I would go up north for the summers.

Those booms from the fire crackers probably seem a lot louder and bigger for small animals than for us, too. My German shepherd when I was growing up actually went right through a shed door because of his fear of thunder -- and the shed door wasn't open. He went through the boards. Ouch. Stay cool!

Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 20 months ago from Houston, Texas

The very few relatives we have are all in distant places. Our immediate parents, grandparents and siblings are all deceased. I fondly remember big family gatherings when I was a kid as my parents home was always a gathering spot. After we moved to Texas there were fewer relatives but my parents always included "strays" who had no other place to go. Since we never had kids, our gatherings tend to be with friends once our parents died.

We had a quiet 4th of July. With only one more project to do, we have almost completed our yard work. Can't work outside too long a time in this heat! We are definitely not as young as we used to be and it takes a toll.

Hope your 4th was festive. Love the music and fireworks on TV. Can't say that our pets enjoy the fireworks in the neighborhood however. Poor little guys!

Au fait profile image

Au fait 20 months ago from North Texas Author

Paula (fpherj48), thank you for reading/commenting/and voting on this article and for your wonderful compliments. My head gets so big I can hardly get through the door after reading them. :)

Relations with my in-laws were always a little stiff, but so long as everyone remembered their manners things usually worked out for a few hours every few years of so. My first mother-in-law remained a friend in after I divorced her son, but I was never close to the others.

Of course now I have no in-laws to deal with, but I used to have a brother-in-law who was the party pooper every year at the family Christmas party. He would be drunk at the whisper of the word beer, even to falling down! Yup, he was very susceptible to that stuff with just a small taste, may he rest in peace. He had my father feeling terrible and my sister (his wife) crying the time it was my turn to have the Christmas party because he had such a vicious nasty mouth.

I should probably qualify that statement that I now have no in-laws to deal with. None on my husband's side because I have no husband, and my late husband's family are all deceased too, except maybe his oldest brother, but he hasn't kept in touch for over 25 years, so I wouldn't know if he is still alive. I do have a brother-in-law (married to a different sister) who has always been easy to get along with and amiable, and I have 2 sisters-in-law. Generally, they too, have been very good company at a get-together and very helpful too.

I agree that avoiding unpleasantries is usually better than responding to them. After all, what is gained by getting into it, so to speak, anyway? It just ruins everyone's day, and everyone doesn't necessarily deserve that.

Au fait profile image

Au fait 20 months ago from North Texas Author

Paul Kuehn, thank you for reading, sharing your experience on this subject, voting on, posting on FB, and sharing this article! I think most families have issues of one kind or another and none are perfect like Leave It to Beaver, Donna Reed Show, Father Knows Best, My Three Sons, etc., where everyone always lives happily ever after.

I do think that some people have a change of heart when they get older and see that meeting the Boss really is a real probability. If there were issues between your paternal grandparents and your parents, look at all they missed by not having a good relationship with your whole family.

Life is short. Why spend it on unpleasantries that are set in stone and will never change. Why let those unpleasantries taint tomorrow? Every day is a chance to start all over again and most of us need all those chances to start again, and we still don't always get it right.

TIMETRAVELER2 profile image

TIMETRAVELER2 20 months ago

I resolved the entire issue by simply not attending family celebratory get togethers. It would be different if family members were more in tune with my husband and myself, but they are not. Being with them was torture for years and years, and one day we decided enough was enough. Now we have stress free, comfortable holidays, and they are much better.

fpherj48 profile image

fpherj48 20 months ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

I'm a member of a fairly small family (especially in the past 12 years or so since the older generation have all passed on.) We have always been close in terms of getting along and keeping in touch throughout the year. "Holidays" & special occasions are usually pleasant and a lot of fun. If one or 2 have a problem with someone, I've never noticed, so it can't be that bad.

Then there is always "The In-LAWS!!" That can be a whole different ball game. I've become quite talented at declining with an appropriate excuse. They can certainly "think" what they want, but I choose my way as opposed to stress & anxiety. I am not your basic "grin & bear it" sort of person. To hell with that. My time and energy, as well as peace of mind is precious to me!! Drama is not my thing. Great hub as always, au fait! UP+++

Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 20 months ago from Udorn City, Thailand

Au fait, you make some good suggestions for improving family get togethers. When I was growing up, my dad never went to many family get-togethers on his side of the family because he usually wasn't invited, This would usually burn my mother up, and she said it was because grandma and grandpa didn't like her very much. I don't know if this is true or not, because they would come out to visit on the farm during the final years of their lives. Voted up and sharing with HP followers and on Facebook.

Au fait profile image

Au fait 23 months ago from North Texas Author

Jay J., thank you for stopping by!

Au fait profile image

Au fait 23 months ago from North Texas Author

RGraf, thank you for reading and sharing your own experience on this issue with me and my readers. I'm so sorry to hear that you have a situation like you described.

I've had some in-laws on the same order and I just refused to put up with their crap, if you'll pardon my French (yes, I am part French). If they didn't want to see their son on holidays that was their choice so far as I was concerned. I didn't need them in my life if they were going to behave that way, and sadly, none of them ever met their granddaughter as a result of it all.

Au fait profile image

Au fait 23 months ago from North Texas Author

Peggy W, thank you for sharing this article!! Happy Easter to you and yours also!

Jay J. 23 months ago

yep I hate the family get together everbody bragging bout what they are up to.

RGraf profile image

RGraf 23 months ago from Wisconsin

My in-laws, nothing would work. Though with new people they fawn over them. I am finding excuses not to go to the family gatherings as it is very stressful. I don't fit in and usually end up sitting by myself during it.

Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 23 months ago from Houston, Texas

Easter is fast approaching and I am sure that many family or friend gatherings are being planned. Will share this again. It might help some people who may come across this hub in time to make note of some of your good suggestions. Happy Easter to you!

Au fait profile image

Au fait 23 months ago from North Texas Author

Poetryman6969, thank you for reading and commenting on this article and for the up vote! There are some people for whom nothing works, but it doesn't hurt to try these different things for the sake of everyone in attendance.

Au fait profile image

Au fait 23 months ago from North Texas Author

Patricia (pstraubie48), thank you for reading and commenting on this article and for sharing your holiday experience a little bit with me and my readers. There really are some people who don't seem to be happy unless everyone else is unhappy. I'm glad most of your family members have learned to rise above the situation because that is often the best solution. If you can just let it slide off your back like water off a duck and remember no one will remember it much less care a hundred years from now. If you let them upset you then they have won. Don't give them that satisfaction.

Hope everything at your house is as good as it can be. Thank you for sending angels and may they be with you and yours at all times.

poetryman6969 profile image

poetryman6969 23 months ago

Some very useful tips. Changing the location and adding an outsider could definitely put the unpleasant ones on their best behavior.

Voted up.

pstraubie48 profile image

pstraubie48 23 months ago from sunny Florida

Here it is ...another holiday when many of us get together. There are a few people who attend that we tip around from time to time but truth be told no one knows what might set those individuals off.

Some of them just are not happy unless they stir things up and most of us know it so we don't allow ourselves to fall for their bait.

The suggestions you pass on here can help for sure. They may not totally eliminate the turmoil but it can cut down on it.

Thankfully about the last five years our holidays have NOT been Drama Time...maybe some are wising up :D We can always hope.

Hoping you have a lovely weekend, AuFait.

Angels are on the way to you this morning ps

Au fait profile image

Au fait 2 years ago from North Texas Author

Fiddleman, thank you for reading and sharing your own experience with get togethers!

Au fait profile image

Au fait 2 years ago from North Texas Author

Peggy W, thank you for pinning and sharing this article! Hopefully this will help some families solve the problem of the party-pooper family member that usually spoils the celebration for everyone else. :)

Fiddleman profile image

Fiddleman 2 years ago from Zirconia, North Carolina

My family is small and our get togetheres are few but not so with my wife's family who are always having some kind of get together. Change ups are nice and add so much more to the usual fanfare. Good ideas.

Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 2 years ago from Houston, Texas

Here we are once again with the end of the year holidays and festivities on the horizon and plans to be made regarding family gatherings. Will pin this to Awesome Hubpages and once again share. Hope you have some fun times ahead of you this year.

Au fait profile image

Au fait 2 years ago from North Texas Author

Thank you for stopping by Aunt Jimi. Yes, I think these suggestions might be useful for family reunions or any family events. Thanks for the votes and share too!

Aunt Jimi profile image

Aunt Jimi 2 years ago from The reddest of the Red states!

You know, this is good advice for all holidays but also for family reunions. The more people who attend one of these family events the more likely there will be a party pooper in the bunch who will try, purposely or not, to spoil it for everyone else.

Voted up and useful! Sharing.

Au fait profile image

Au fait 3 years ago from North Texas Author

Lyrickkw, thank you for sharing your own experience on this issue. I'm so glad your family holiday get togethers go well. Holidays should be happy and enjoyable not only for the sake of the celebration, but because you just never know who won't be able to be at the next get together . . . thanks again!

Lyrickkw profile image

Lyrickkw 3 years ago from PHILADELPHIA

I love holidays with my family. We always find the time to put away all negative thoughts and actions to enjoy those few times a year for together.

Au fait profile image

Au fait 3 years ago from North Texas Author

Thank you Peggy W for tweeting and sharing this article! I hope it will give people ideas on how to make their celebrations more enjoyable.

Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 3 years ago from Houston, Texas

Since the holidays are fast approaching going to give this hub of yours a tweet. Will also share again with HP readers. Hopefully it will help people.

Au fait profile image

Au fait 3 years ago from North Texas Author

Thank you Deborah-Diane for reading and commenting and pinning this hub. Have to agree that alcohol is too often involved in family get togethers where one or more members become disruptive and rude. A public place might help, but with alcohol involved it's still dicy. Definitely worth a try.

Deborah-Diane profile image

Deborah-Diane 3 years ago from Orange County, California

Very helpful information about dealing with problem relatives during the holidays. I particularly love the idea of celebrating the holiday in a restaurant or public place. I know that many people have family members that they really don't want to have hanging around their home and their children. It sounds cruel to exclude them from gatherings but, if they are disruptive, meeting in a public place seems like a good compromise. I pinned this to my Alanon and Alcoholism board, because alcohol is often a part of the problem.

Au fait profile image

Au fait 4 years ago from North Texas Author

Thank you Peggy W, for reading, commenting, and sharing this hub. I hope it will help people who have issues at their holiday gatherings to make those gatherings more pleasant.

Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 4 years ago from Houston, Texas

Came back to tell you that I am going to share this hub. There are many holidays and reasons for family gatherings year this may help people tackle those sticky situations if they arise with some practical tips of how to handle them. Useful hub!

Au fait profile image

Au fait 4 years ago from North Texas Author

moonlake, thank you for reading, commenting, and voting on this hub! Agree that the person you described should have simply let it be known that they couldn't participate in gift giving -- or you could have made it a rule that gifts could not exceed $1 each. Whatever it would take to make it more about getting together and less about gifts.

moonlake profile image

moonlake 4 years ago from America

We once had a family member dump a basket of gifts in the middle of out living room and yell, "We had to buy so many gifts for everyone else we couldn't buy for our family." That ruined everyone's Christmas. All they had to say is that they were just buying for their family no one else. Everyone would have understood and been happy with that.

The get togethers were for just being together not about gifts.

Voted up

Au fait profile image

Au fait 5 years ago from North Texas Author

RTalloni: That's what counts -- finding a way for everyone to enjoy the family being together without someone spoiling it for everyone. I like the idea of "Peace," especially during the winter holidays.

Thank you for adding a great idea to the conversation!

RTalloni profile image

RTalloni 5 years ago from the short journey

We have some friends who evidently have multiple difficult family members. They love them and invite them anyway. When any ugly talk or behavior starts they grab up a plaque that is printed with, "This is a house of peace..." I'm not sure of the complete adage, but they hold it up to the offender and tell them that they have to take that talk/behavior elsewhere. That evidently does the job.

Au fait profile image

Au fait 5 years ago from North Texas Author

Thank you Peggy W, for taking the time to read and comment on my hub! Wishing you a great holiday season also!

Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

I think that your ideas are truly useful if people find themselves in situations like you outlined. Hope your holidays are good ones! Voted up and useful.

Au fait profile image

Au fait 5 years ago from North Texas Author

Thank you bethperry for taking time to read and comment on my hub. I hope you are right and that these suggestions will help make the holidays much happier for as many people as possible.

bethperry profile image

bethperry 5 years ago from Tennesee

I know some who have family situations like this and this advice sounds like ideas that could be very useful.

Au fait profile image

Au fait 5 years ago from North Texas Author

Hope you won't have to give more over the holidays . . . ;) Thank you, jfay2011, for taking the time to read and comment on my hub!

jfay2011 profile image

jfay2011 5 years ago

I can hardly wait. Favorite time of the year. I gave blood yesterday.

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clippy34 5 years ago

Just don't invite the family nutters.

John 5 years ago


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