Got Family Drama? Here’s How To Survive Family Gatherings This Thanksgiving


How To Survive Family Gatherings? Best Tips

Ah, the holidays, right? A time for family get-togethers and all that jazz. But how to survive family gatherings when your family is more dramatic than a Hallmark movie?

If this Thanksgiving day 2023 celebration feels like a minefield. Don’t worry, we’ve got your back. Here are some solid tips to not just survive, but actually enjoy and learning how to avoid drama with family.

“Families always have these unspoken dramas, and at holidays, everyone is supposed to sit down and pretend that none of that is going on.” – Richard LaGravenese

How To Survive Family Gatherings With Less Drama?

The arrival of autumn also means that we’re on the edge of the holiday season. And with that comes a slew of surviving family gatherings. Turkey and dressing with the in-laws. Latkes and a cherished family Dreidel.

The school holiday play and the office Christmas party. And there are also the more intimate holiday gatherings – like decorating the Christmas tree while sipping hot cocoa (or spiked eggnog).

When we imagine treasured and perfect holiday gatherings, we hope for ones that are filled with love and cherishing. That despite hot messes of previous experiences, that this year will be different. Rather than drama, we will be able to experience the holiday spirit at every turn.

We look forward to sharing delightful meals, making beautiful memories, and being surrounded by loving and supportive friends and family.

How To Survive Family Gatherings This Thanksgiving
How To Survive Family Gatherings With Less Drama This Thanksgiving 2023

Let’s be real, though. Most holiday gatherings – be they with family or friends – can feel like a minefield. And as if you’re gearing up for battle rather than an opportunity for joyful companionship with loved ones.

Related: 8 Ways To Gracefully Survive A Toxic Family During The Holidays

The holidays can trigger even the friendliest of folks to act in…shall we say… less than loving ways.

Though we become accustomed to the little ways our families are dysfunctional (and accept them as normal), it doesn’t mean we leave every holiday gathering feeling loved and accepted.

Even the most amiable of folks don’t always treat the people not born into a family (aka spouses, partners, step-children) with the level of kindness they show to their friends and blood-relations.

“Other things may change us, but we start and end with family.” – Anthony Brandt

Oh, let’s be even more honest: some of our in-laws are nicer to strangers and mangy dogs than they are to us. And then there are the siblings we desperately want to be friends with, but who seem unable to utter a kind word.

When our desire is simply to enjoy what’s before us and cruise through the end of the year without drama, holiday gatherings can feel like stepping onto a battleship. Whatever holidays are part of your tradition, here are some suggestions for navigating – and surviving family gatherings.

Here Are 10 Tips On How To Avoid Drama With Family

1. Not Everyone is Going to Like You

tips to survive family gatherings
Surviving Family Gatherings: How To Survive?

Call me a Pollyanna, but I look at meeting someone as an opportunity to make a dear friend. So, I’m always shocked when someone isn’t friendly. The truth is, not everyone is going to like you.

Maybe you remind them of someone who was mean to them in junior high. Maybe they see you as a threat to their place in the family. If someone doesn’t like you, there really isn’t much you can do to change their mind. In fact, the harder you try, the meaner they may become.

This isn’t your all-access pass to being rude. Just stop trying to make everyone like you because it’s only going to stress you out.

Related: 15 Holiday Movies To Blend Perfectly With Your Festive Mood

2. Acceptance Goes a Long Way to Not Stressing Out

When you make the decision to accept the situation as it is, you can release a heck of a lot of stress. You stop trying to bend over backward to change someone’s opinion.

Accept that nothing you do or say is likely to change the cranky person’s beliefs about you, and move on to a different encounter. This will allow you to enjoy the holiday gatherings with more peace in your own heart.

“Family is supposed to be our safe heaven. Very often, it’s the place where we find the deepest heartache.” – Iyanla Vanzant

3. Choosing to Be Optimistic is Always Helpful

Though you can’t expect others to change, there’s always a chance that the person you most dread seeing will have changed. Now, don’t hold your breath, but you never know.

4. Remember that The Grass Always Seems Greener.

Many of the snarky comments and back-handed compliments uttered across the holiday table are said from a belief that your life is so much “easier” than the lives of others.

You know the kind of comments I’m talking about – “must be nice” kind of comments. We all know how comparisons and looking at the outside results of someone else’s life doesn’t show us the real story.

Your grass just seems much greener than their own. Remember that it’s not personal.

Related: 5 Simple Ways To Beat Holiday Stress And Spend Quality Time With Family

5. Holiday Gatherings Are Not All About You

I know barbs and slights, and even being ignored may feel personal, but they really aren’t. Just remind yourself that “it’s not about me.” Insecurities and fears make many people do less-than-nice things. You simply trigger a negative response because of their past interactions with other people.

Often passive-aggressive behavior (or aggressive behavior) stems from a belief that the person feels threatened by you and saying and doing mean things allows them to feel as if they are in control. It’s not about you. It’s about the perception of power.

“The best present on Christmas is spending some good time with family realizing the importance of love sharing things that give you real joy Christmas is the time to enjoy so have fun with your family Merry Christmas and a Happy new year!”

– Anonymous

6. Kindness is Always in Style


When someone regularly dishes out a side of nastiness, I remind myself how incredibly horrible it must feel to be inside their own head. This isn’t about being mean; it’s about knowing that most people’s inner critic is much harsher than anything they say to others.

It’s also not about rewarding poor behavior, but about treating someone with the kindness they are unable to offer themselves. It’s a win for karma, even if it is challenging.

7. Choose to Bite Your Tongue at Holiday Gatherings

When someone says something hateful, it’s tempting to zing ‘em right back. Though it’s easier said than done, it behooves you to just not respond.

Turn to the person next to you and start a new conversation. Take an empty plate to the kitchen. Go outside and get a breath of fresh air. Don’t react. Don’t snap back. Stay calm. Handle the situation with as much grace as possible.

Related: 24 Simple Self-Care Ideas For The Holidays and Beyond

8. For Those Times When You Have to Take a Stand

I’m a very non-confrontational person, but sometimes you have to draw the line. Take a deep breath, make eye contact, and very gently say something along the lines of “I’m sorry you feel that way, would you like to tell me why you would think that?

This isn’t about being snarky or hateful; it’s the opportunity to open up some dialogue without the drama. Because, baby, you can try to make peace. But you are not a doormat.

“The more dysfunctional, the more some family members seek to control the behavior of others.”

– David W. Earle

9. Prepare Yourself

Before you go, mentally prepare yourself. Talk about your concerns with your partner or a trusted friend. Arrange some sort of signal with your partner if you are feeling the need to be “rescued.”

Also, go into the situation making sure you feel comfortable and powerful in your own skin. Maybe it’s a special outfit or getting your nails done. Sometimes, our exterior “armor” can help us feel safer.

10. Decide: Should You Stay or Go to All the Holiday Gatherings

You deserve to have a happy, loving holiday, even if it’s just you and your spouse (or you alone!). If you know that your buttons are going to be pushed – or you are already having nightmares involving that one person – consider staying home.

On the flip side, don’t let one person ruin the opportunity for you to spend quality time with people you love.

“The best of all gifts around any Christmas tree: the presence of a happy family all wrapped up in each other.” – Burton Hillis

I know from experience that going over-the-river and through-the-woods can be a rewarding venture when the festivities are pleasant. I also know from experience what it feels to prefer a root canal over a family dinner. It’s easy to get lost within perfection and how things “should” be this time of year. Hey, you’re only human!

How To Survive Family Gatherings With Less Drama

Just know that you don’t have to deal with being treated poorly by anyone.  Love is your birthright and you deserve to be loved and accepted for who you are.

Remember that you deserve to get through family gatherings without drama. So, here’s an interesting video that you may like:

“Free yourself from the complexities and drama of your life. Simplify. Look within. Within ourselves, we all have the gifts and talents we need to fulfill the purpose we’ve been blessed with.” – Steve Maraboli

Take some time off and reflect on your thoughts and emotions. The strategies mentioned here can help you gain better control over your negative thoughts and better prepare yourself for all the upcoming drama.

The tips mentioned here are targeted at controlling your own thoughts and behaviour instead of trying to control anyone else. As we can only control our own reactions and responses, this will help you develop the right mindset and make you aware of your behaviour. 

In the end, the best way to survive family gatherings this holiday season is to control yourself and develop a more tolerant and positive mindset.

Happy Holidays and happy Thanksgiving!

Written by Debra Smouse
Originally appeared in Debra Smouse
Survive family Gatherings
How To Survive Family Gatherings With Less Drama This Thanksgiving 2023
Ten Tips To Survive Family Gatherings With Less Drama
Surviving Family Holiday Gatherings: How To Survive Family Reunion
Survive Family Gatherings With Less Drama pin
How To Survive Family Gatherings With Less Drama This Thanksgiving 2023
Tips Survive Family Gatherings With Less Drama pin
How To Survive Family Gatherings With Less Drama This Thanksgiving Day 2023
surviving family gatherings

— Share —

— About the Author —

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Up Next

When Someone You Love Suffers From Borderline Personality Disorder: 10 Ways to Work Through The Guilt You Feel

Borderline Personality Disorder: Ways To Deal With BPD Guilt

Loving someone with borderline personality disorder can feel exhausting sometimes. And then comes the guilt. So what is this connection between borderline personality disorder and the guilt you feel? This article is going to focus on the connection between BPD and guilt, and why you feel the latter.

Your phone rings; you look down and her name appears on your screen. Sadly, you dread clicking over…and then comes the guilt.

Your history with her rushes into your mind as you wait for one more ring. You’re reminded of all the times that you’ve rushed to her side, comforted her, and told her you’d be there for her, while realizing over time that your caring would never be enough to shore up her fragile self-worth.

Up Next

Only Child Syndrome: A Closer Look At The World Of An Only Child

Only Child Syndrome: Exploring An Only Child's World

What is the only child syndrome and how does an only child feel growing up without siblings? This article is going to talk about how it feels being an only child, and what it entails. So, let’s get started, shall we?

There is a stereotype that only children, children without siblings, fail to develop the ordinary social bonds and attachments that children with siblings do. The reality is more nuanced.

It does not follow that children with siblings are automatically more adaptable, more able to share, more able to understand group dynamics, but it is the case that only children didn’t grow up having to deal with

Up Next

8 Under-the-Radar Signs You’re Being The Black Sheep Of The Family

Surprising Habits Of Being The Black Sheep Of The Family

Being the black sheep of the family can be as clear-cut as a polka dot amongst a sea of stripes. It feels like while everyone is a part of a synchronized orchestra, you are marching to your own beat.

It could be anything from your unconventional career choices or vibrant tattoo collection to simply being good at stirring the pot at family reunions, being the black sheep of the family is not all doom and gloom.

Instead, it should be something that you look upon with pride because it shows how unique you really are. All right, let’s explore some of the subtle signs you are being the black sheep of the family.<

Up Next

How To Support Your Partner When They’re Hurt By Your Parents

How To Support Your Partner When Your Parents Hurt Them

Trying to be fair when your partner and parents have an argument can be a tough balancing act to master. Which is why, sometimes validating your partner is necessary. This article is going to talk about how to support your partner, and what’s the best strategy if you’re thinking about how to validate your partner’s feelings.


Troubles with in-laws are common in relationships.

It’s natural to want to keep harmony between your partner and your family member.

It’s important to try to understand why your partner’s emotions make sense and validate them.

Up Next

Child Parentification: The Cause, Signs, and Recovery

Clear Signs Of Child Parentification In Adults

Ever felt like you were the parent instead of the child? That might be child parentification. Let’s explore its causes, signs, and how to recover together.

The term child parentification was coined in 1967 by family systems theorist Salvador Minuchin, who said the phenomenon occurred when parents de facto delegated parenting roles to children.

It can happen when one parent is physically absent or when a dysfunctional family is under stress because a parent cannot perform their parental responsibilities.

Usually, this is due to a phy

Up Next

What Is A Devouring Mother? Overcoming A Narcissistic Mother’s Toxic Grip

What Is A Devouring Mother? Ways To Overcome Toxicity

Do you feel overwhelmed, smothered, or suffocated by all the love and attention your mother gives you? Perhaps you know people who feel trapped in situations where their mother’s love becomes an all-encompassing affair? This phenomenon is referred to as “The Devouring Mother Archetype.” Let’s explore what is a devouring mother and how to deal with the devouring mother archetype.

What is a Devouring Mother?

The Freudian devouring mother describes a controlling, overbearing motherly figure hampering a child’s development and independence. It is marked by possessiveness and narcissism.

As the term is not a literal description, a devouring Mother does not mean a mother who consumes her children ph

Up Next

Women with Daddy Issues: 3 Identifying Signs and Proven Strategies for Healing

Subtle Signs of Women With Daddy Issues and How To Deal

Are you dating a woman who seeks a lot of attention and validation all the time? Do they struggle with poor self-esteem? Is it difficult to form a secure and healthy attachment with her? Then she just might be struggling with daddy issues. Let us understand the psychology of women with daddy issues.

And the best way to do that is to explore what it actually means, identifying the signs of daddy issues in a woman and learning how to deal with daddy issues in a woman. This will enable you to help them heal and nurture a healthier relationship.

Understanding Daddy Issues

The term “da