"I don't know what to say, except it's Christmas and we're all in misery." — Ellen Griswold, National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation
1. Get a game plan. You’ll better understand why your in-laws drive you nuts if you write down what bugs you ahead of time. Face the fact that you’re not going to change them and instead learn how to control how you respond to their remarks. Do they constantly comment on your parenting style or appearance? Bring up uncomfortable political discussions or TMI family drama? Mastering the mantra “don’t take it personally” might be the best solution.
2. Chill out. Meditate or do something incredibly relaxing for yourself the day before they arrive. A long run, bubble bath or a massage will calm your nerves and put you in the right state of mind to tackle stress.
3. Learn to suck it up. Sometimes the best way to deal with in-laws is to pretend you like them, a lot. It might sound ridiculous, but family psychologists claim that even the most unsavory holiday get-togethers can go smoothly if one simply makes an effort. Recognize that your in-laws probably just want to feel important in your life, and putting on a good face may win over a mother or father in-law who acts icy. And hey, its not going to kill you to act nice just once.
4. Food: "After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one’s own relatives." — Oscar Wilde
Food, if nothing else, keeps peoples mouths full and makes them feel tired. Pulling out the stops and making a feast for your in-laws' arrival may be a great way to keep not only hunger but arguments at bay. Added bonus: they might fall asleep if they eat too much
5. Plan a get-together with friends right after the holidays. Planning a dinner night with friends or another rewarding activity right after your in-laws visit is a great way to release stress, vent and share some laughs. Your in-laws aren’t going to be here forever (even if it feels that way), and planning an event to look forward to will help you enjoy your time with them instead of dreading it.
6. Stay busy. Staying busy, whether it be “slaving away” in the kitchen, hosting the dinner or cleaning up afterward, is a surefire way to avoid excess face time with your in-laws. You still appear engaged in the festivities while keeping the appearance of a person selflessly rushing around trying to make everything run smoothly. Trust me; it works
7. Play with the kids. Family gatherings usually include children, who are a great excuse to step away from your in-laws if you feel you need a break. “I’m going to go check on the kids” is not only a legitimate excuse but will also make you seem like a more responsible and caring person than you actually are — i.e., brownie points.
8. Booze. Alcohol can either help or worsen a situation with your in laws, so proceed with caution before you start tossing em' back. Pros: Your mother-in-law could become less bitchy. Cons: All that Zen you’ve been manifesting prior to the holidays could suddenly fly out the window. Choose wisely, my friend.
9. Act sick. Feign a headache, adopt a fad food allergy or blame “that time of the month." Whatever ailment you come up with, people are twice as likely to give you sympathy and “alone time” if they think you don’t feel good. Note: this trick can’t be used during every holiday gathering, or they’ll catch on.
10. Nature walks (are your new best friend). “Does anyone feel like getting some fresh air?” is a great way to break away from a gathering that's gotten too tense. Your in-laws will inevitably prefer to remain glued to the couch, and you’ll be free to elope with your smartphone and snap some holiday selfies where you can look like you’re having a great time.