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Holidays With Family: The Survival Guide

December 18, 2023 7 min read

Picture this: A cocktail of laughter, endearing bickering over board games, and those unforgettable shared moments that someone, probably Uncle Bob, will bring up year after year. It's an intoxicating blend of joy, bonding, and yes — a dash of good old-fashioned chaos. 

Now, while everyone's snapping selfies and hunting for the missing sock under the sofa, there's a silent champion in the room, ensuring the holiday cheer remains high — even when Aunt Mabel insists on discussing politics. That champion? It's you, armed with a playbook on juggling family dynamics and still coming out smiling.

Read on for our guide on how to survive the family holidays and have fun doing it.

Set the Holiday Stage

Choosing a family holiday destination is like picking the backdrop for a blockbuster movie. Do you opt for the thrill-a-minute rollercoasters of Florida's famed theme parks or the tranquil allure of the Caribbean's azure waters? 

Then, there's the enticing draw of all-inclusive holidays in sun-soaked Greece. Or, what about a culturally rich package holiday in Egypt? 

The world's your oyster, but remember, choice matters. It sets the tone, the mood, and the memories. If you go overseas, just make sure you look for the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) and Air Travel Organiser’s Licensing (ATOL) badges — think of them as your travel guardians, ensuring everything runs smoother than your grandma's gravy.

It’s also important to consider your lodging. While family hotels might be less cozy than a massive Airbnb, they can also offer more space. And if any of your family members are bringing animals, you’ll also want to look for pet-friendly hotels or lodging.

Prep for the Big Gathering

As the day approaches, managing expectations becomes your unsung mantra. Sure, the American tradition of a turkey dinner for Christmas and Thanksgiving is a spectacle, with its parade of side dishes and that mouthwatering, golden bird taking center stage. 

Yet, it's not just about cooking. It's about delegating tasks, getting everyone involved, and maybe convincing Cousin Lou to stick to salad duty after last year's "stuffing incident." But amidst all this festive frenzy, don't forget yourself. 

Carve out some "me" time. Whether it's a quiet moment with a cup of coffee or a brisk walk outside, a little breather does wonders, ensuring you're all set to play the gracious host with panache.

Ensure Diplomacy at the Dinner Table

One of the great (and sometimes challenging) aspects of family gatherings is the diverse range of personalities, opinions, and age groups all converging under one roof. Often, the dinner table becomes the stage for spirited debates, be it your in-laws’ political views or the younger generation's new-age dietary choices.

The key to smooth sailing? Diplomacy. Consider setting some ground rules, like establishing a no-politics zone or ensuring conversations remain inclusive and considerate. Having a designated change-the-subject person can also be a fun way to keep things light-hearted. When discussions get heated, they can interject with a funny story or a neutral topic.

Also, prepare a few conversation starters or games. Engaging in a collective reminiscing session about past family holidays or playing a round of “Two Truths and a Lie” can easily redirect the focus toward bonding.

Plan Family-Friendly Activities

After mealtime, keep the energy flowing and curtail potential boredom-induced squabbles with a roster of family-friendly activities. 

For instance, you could introduce our Retro Snowmobile Snow Sled as a snowy afternoon activity. Not only does it provide a burst of laughter-filled outdoor adventure, but it also brings together multiple generations, forging memories for the whole family that last a lifetime.

Inside, consider setting up a family movie marathon with classics that appeal to both young and old. Or perhaps, set up a DIY crafting station where everyone can create a keepsake from the holiday. Remember, the aim is to provide enough variety to cater to everyone's interests, ensuring each family member feels included and cherished.

Navigate Personal Space and Boundaries

Long holidays can sometimes mean overlapping personal spaces, especially if family members are staying over. It's essential to respect individual boundaries while also setting some of your own. If you have early risers and night owls in the same house, maybe designate quiet hours or set up a reading nook for those who'd like some alone time.

Encourage family members to voice their needs, ensuring everyone feels comfortable and at ease. After all, a happy holiday is one where everyone feels seen, heard, and respected.

The Importance of Little Family Breaks

Even in the most harmonious family gatherings, everyone needs a breather now and then. This doesn't signify discord — it's just human nature. Everyone has a saturation point, especially with continuous interaction and family time. 

Create small escape routes throughout the day. Maybe it's a brief walk around the neighborhood, a quick coffee run, or just stepping into another room to listen to a podcast for a few minutes. No matter what it looks like, these getaways can save your mental health and carve out time for your little family unit to reconnect.

For those hosting, consider making a small guide or list of nearby places or activities guests can explore. From a quaint cafe around the corner to a serene park, these little escapades can act as rejuvenating pauses.

Keep the Little Ones Engaged

Let's face it — the younger ones might not be as thrilled about Aunt Jenny's tales from the 70s as the adults. It's crucial to have a stash of activities solely for them. 

Besides our much-loved Snow Sleds for outdoor fun, try setting up a magical place for them to call their own in the playroom. Stock it with board games, puzzles, coloring books, and maybe even a video game console for the slightly older kids. Consider creating a cozy sleepover with FUNBOY’s Pink and Blue Convertible Sleepover Beds to add an extra dash of magic and fun. 

For a touch of holiday magic, consider a DIY cookie decoration station or story sessions where the older family members share childhood tales. It's about balancing fun with meaningful interactions.

Master the Art of Compromise

Any family gathering comes bundled with its set of challenges. It's natural — when you bring together such a diverse group of personalities, hiccups are bound to happen. But it's essential to remember the art of compromise. The holiday season isn't just about individual wishes — it's about creating collective joy.

Try not to fret if the pie crust isn't as flaky as you'd hoped or if somebody misses out on the movie marathon because they've snoozed off. Take a deep breath, offer a smile, and let go. Ensure open communication and negotiate on house rules. Your elixir to holiday peace lies in understanding, patience, and a whole lot of love.

Practice Gratitude

Through the whirlwind of activities, meals, and laughter, it's crucial to remember the reason for the season — gratitude. More than anything, holidays symbolize a time to appreciate our loved ones, the moments we've shared, and the memories we're in the process of making.

Cultivate an atmosphere of gratitude. Maybe start a new tradition, like a Gratitude Jar where everyone can drop notes on what they're thankful for, or a special toast to thank each other during mealtime. It's a gentle but powerful reminder of the bonds that hold you all together.

On the last day of the holidays, gather around and read out the messages from the Gratitude Jar. It's a heartwarming way to encapsulate your shared feelings and the perfect closing to your family holiday.

The Last Hurrah

All good things must come to an end, and so does your family holiday. But that doesn't mean it has to be a somber event. Make the farewell as fun and memorable as the festivities that preceded it.

Design a ceremonial “Last Hurrah.” Perhaps a hearty breakfast featuring everyone's favorite dishes or a fun morning outdoors at the park. Consider giving out small tokens or keepsakes, like a family photo or a craft made during the holiday, as a memento of the great time spent together.

As the day closes and your family heads back to their homes, you're left with not just the joy of a successful holiday but the priceless treasure of memories created. You'll soon find yourself already excited for the next great family gathering!

Top Tips for a Harmonious Holiday Season

Now that we've explored the intricacies of hosting and enjoying a family holiday, let's distill this into some quick, actionable tips that can serve as your go-to checklist. As the holiday season looms around the corner, having these reminders can be your secret weapon to ensure harmony, fun, and memorable moments.

Here are our tips:

  • Plan Early: Start your preparations ahead of time, from choosing destinations — be it the water parks of Florida or the serene beaches of Crete — to finalizing the holiday menu. An early start equals less stress.
  • Delegate Tasks: Remember, you don't have to do it all. Share responsibilities among family members. From kitchen duties to kids' clubs, split the work.
  • Engage the Kids: Keep the young ones entertained with dedicated activities. From our magical sleepover beds that transform the living area into a nighttime wonderland to crafting sessions, you can ensure they're never bored.
  • Have a Backup Plan: Always keep a plan B in your pocket, be it for indoor activities if it rains or alternative meals for picky eaters.
  • Incorporate Local Activities: Especially if you're visiting destinations like Mexico, California, or the Caribbean, integrate local festivals or traditions into your holiday plans.
  • Use Icebreakers: When introducing family members who might not know each other well, use fun icebreakers or games to ease the atmosphere.
  • Try Apres Shotskis for Tough Times: When tension runs high or you need a little pick-me-up, our Apres Shotskis can offer a fun, lighthearted break. Simply blow them up, fill them up, and enjoy the memories.
  • Flexibility Is Key: Be ready to adapt. Whether it's a change in the holiday itinerary or accommodating last-minute guests, stay flexible.
  • Appreciate Every Moment: While it's essential to plan, remember to take a step back, enjoy the present, and cherish the time spent with loved ones.

The Bottom Line

From the rush of picking the best holiday destinations to the gentle hum of family members catching up, holidays with loved ones are nothing short of magical. While there might be moments of chaos, it's these very moments — the shared laughter, the playful bickering, and the collective memories — that weave the tapestry of our lives. 

At FUNBOY, we believe in celebrating these moments and making every holiday a cherished memory. So here’s to family, fun, and a festive season filled with joy!

Sources:

The American Thanksgiving | The New York Times

Diplomacy at the dinner table | The Harvard-Westlake Chronicle

How to Practice Gratitude | Mindful

The Art Of Compromise | Archdiocese of Detroit


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