Do you have that side of the family that no one wants to socialize with? They’re not bad. Just different. Well, I do.
After many family gatherings, I’ve learned four tips for a happy or stress-free family gathering. Please keep in mind these are things that worked for me. However, your situation may be different.
Tip #1–Be careful of who you invite
This is tricky. You want to invite your cousin Jake, but he doesn’t get along with your brother. Or you want Uncle Harold to come, but you can’t stand his wife, Betty. I get it. I’ve actually dealt with this one.
Some years ago, my grandmother–who was in her late eighties at the time–wanted to celebrate a little for a particular holiday. Instead of fixing a huge feast like she felt she should, my brother and I convinced her to make do with what we had.
We ended up having hot dogs, hamburgers, potato salad, baked beans, and deviled eggs. My brother and I are simple people and liked our grandmother’s cooking.
She wanted to invite some other family members, namely Jack and his daughter Sia (not their real names). Jack was an okay guy. I wasn’t close to Sia, but I always tried to get along with her.
So my brother called them, and a little later on, they showed up. The gathering went the way I expected it to go… at first.
We sat around and talked for a little while and then decided to eat. While we were fixing our plates, Sia said she wished there was more food and then started naming what was missing. I was shocked and a little embarrassed! How are you going to complain about free food? That’s so disrespectful, and to do it in the person’s home.
I looked over at my grandmother, a person who was very concerned about what other people thought of her.
She looked calm, but I imagined she was horrified and sad inside. My brother and I had convinced her to go with a low-key meal. Now her worst fear of not having what was expected had come true.
I didn’t know what to say to Sia, I was so shocked! The moment passed but I haven’t forgotten. Needless to say, Sia isn’t invited to many of our gatherings anymore.
As I was saying, be mindful of who you invite. Think honestly about how their presence could affect your get-together.
Tip #2–Think Positive
Be positive! Give Happy Vibes a chance. You never know; you might be surprised.
Tip #3–Come up with family-friendly topics to discuss
I suggest staying away from religion or politics. If you want to see your gathering go from a peaceful get-together to a violent dumpster fire in 3.2 seconds, put a political or religious topic out there. Especially if the group is of different political ideas.
Tip #4–Be mindful of where everyone sits to eat
Sometimes family members don’t get along. Sitting them next to each other is a horrible idea.
However, when it comes to eating, folks usually sit wherever. So when you call folks to the table, try to steer family members to specific seats.
I haven’t tried this tactic, but you could try to hold one person back. Have them help you with something in the kitchen or get something from a different room. Anything that will delay that one person, so the other person can go and get seated. Then the person who was held back can decide where they want to sit.
If you try the re-seat folks and it doesn’t work, well, at least you tried. Hopefully, everyone will be respectful and keep their distance from anyone they have trouble with. Once everyone is seated, throw out some family-friendly topics to get everyone talking.
Being careful who I invite, thinking positively, having family-friendly topics ready to discuss, and trying to keep everybody civil have been my 4 tips for a happy family gathering.
If you have stories of good or bad family gatherings that you want to share, feel free to put them in the comments section. I’d love to read them!