Ah, the holidays. The mere suggestion of this time of year conjures up images of presents, snow, eggnog and happy holiday gatherings with family and friends. If you’re hosting the party, the fantasy of the perfect holiday party is sometimes hard to make happen in reality.

We all know someone who has that one family member, office mate or friend that seems to “ruin” every holiday party or gathering. Instead of just letting the same thing happen this year, take steps to protect yourself and still keep your party a smashing success.

  • Try not to take things personally. In most cases, the offending person isn’t really trying to ruin your holiday. They may be unaware of how their behavior makes you feel. Or, they are too wrapped up in their own problems to see how they are affecting others around them. Don’t allow yourself to be abused or treated poorly, but don’t assume they are attacking you, either.
  • Consider talking to that person alone, before the party begins. It’s perfectly fine to have a discussion with the offending person and tell them how you feel. Just be sure you aren’t ganging up on them in front of others, and remember to address their behavior and not the person as a whole. Do your best to be honest, and remember that they are allowed to react in their own way.
  • Talk to a friend. Family gatherings tend to find us all reverting to our familiar roles (child, caretaker, the responsible one, etc). And office parties that involve “that person” can be difficult. Having a friend available to vent to, either by phone or some other way, can help you feel supported. Remember to keep the fun of the holiday season a priority for yourself, too!
  • Remove yourself from the situation. If things are getting uncomfortable, find some way to be of service. If you’re not the host, you might consider doing the dishes, running any errands that might need to be run, or helping out with the kids. As the host, you might consider focusing on the food and topping off drinks. Anything that takes you out of the conversation and gives you something else to focus on.

It’s important to remember that you are only in control of so much. Sometimes, people act poorly. Do what you can to mitigate the situation, or try not to let it get out of control. But be sure to enjoy the party, and the people who chose to celebrate with you.

There are so many ways people create magic at this time of year. Don’t let it slip away for yourself. Give yourself the gift of honesty, peace and joy.

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