The Stress-Free Way to Host a Huge Family Gathering

A Healthier Michigan

| 3 min read

It’s that time of year when families come together under one roof to celebrate the holidays. And if you’re the one hosting all those aunts, uncles, cousins and siblings, you might be wondering about how the different personalities are going to get along in such close quarters. Feeling stressed out already? Here are a few things to keep in mind to help you relax when hosting a huge family gathering:
Remember that perfection doesn’t exist. The image of family gatherings portrayed in commercials may seem idyllic, but that’s not reality. Don’t feel like a failure if your family starts bickering or there’s tension in the air – that’s normal! Remind yourself that every family has quirks, and it’s okay if your holiday gatherings aren’t perfect. And in the case that arguments do occur, you can help them wrap up quickly by changing the subject or introducing an activity.
Schedule activities. One way to bring everyone together is to organize some holiday activities. Maybe it’s decorating cookies, watching a classic holiday movie (think Elf or Home Alone), playing a game of Heads Up, visiting a local landmark or going on a hike nearby. When people are busy, they’re less likely to get into arguments with each other. And remember: You don’t need to do everything together – it’s also good to let people have some alone time!
Open communication among generations: It may be a challenge getting the younger kids to talk to the grandparents, but those kinds of conversations are important. Encourage kids to discover something new about the family’s history – for example, they can ask the older adults to share a holiday tradition they grew up with or talk about favorite festive foods from their childhood.
Dial up the empathy. The holidays are not a joyous time for everyone. Some people get sad during this time of year—maybe they’re missing the presence of a loved one who passed away or are going through their first holiday season since a divorce. If your cousin is cranky and critical, remember that they may be going through something.
Don’t forget about self-care. Sometimes the best way to lower your stress level is by escaping for a little bit and doing something for yourself. Think about splurging on a manicure or pedicure, going for a walk to clear your head or closing your bedroom door and reading for a little. Remember: The holidays are a time to give gifts to others and to yourself.
Photo credit: Getty Images

A Healthier Michigan is sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, a nonprofit, independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association.
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