Picture it…your family gathered around the Christmas dinner table. There’s a fire roaring in the fireplace, turkey is on the table, presents are under the tree, Christmas carols are cheerfully on in the background…

And a heated family argument erupts at the table, hotter than anything in the fireplace.

This scene will probably play itself out in, sadly, countless American homes this holiday season. If it’s about politics, money, or someone’s significant other, it takes very little to send some people over the edge.

This blog post is to give you some advice if you find yourself trapped in one of these unfortunate scenarios, what you can do to bring things down a notch, or, at the very least, preserve your sanity.

  1. Set some boundaries. If at all humanly possible, try to head any arguments off at the pass. When you extend or accept invitations, make it very clear you will only do so if people are on their best behavior and will not fight during the festivities.
  1. Not your monkeys, not your circus. One way of preserving your sanity is to just completely stay out of it. If the argument doesn’t involve you in the least, staying silent can be a wise option.
  1. Do no harm. It is extremely important to remember that you can only control yourself, not other people. You can control what you say, but not how other people will react. If you have something valuable to add, by all means do so. But jump in only if you think it is wise to do so. If you are arguing just to argue, you are throwing gasoline on a pile of oily rags
  1. Be the diffuser. OK, so maybe you’re not a trained hostage negotiator, but what can you do to improve the situation? Can you sneakily change the subject? Can you get one of the fighting parties out of the room to help you with dessert or outside for a bit of air? Anything you can do to restore some modicum of peace will be appreciated by nearly everyone present.
  1. Stay on topic. If you are bold enough to join the fracas, that is your choice. But in any argument, you aren’t doing anyone any favors by bringing up things that happened five or ten years ago. If you are questioning your sister’s taste in boyfriends, talking about her junior high crush is really not going to be much help to you.
  1. Shut people down, right then and there. Especially if you are the hostess (or even if you’re not), you are entitled to enjoy a drama-free holiday. There is nothing wrong with reminding people it is Christmas, and FFS, can you all act like grown-ass adults for a change?!
  1. Just leave. Assuming you came on your own power, when all else fails, just leave. Out of the room or out of the house. Sometimes distancing yourself from the drama is the best thing you can do for your sanity. Allow yourself to cool down.
  1. Be gracious afterwards. If you said something to hurt someone’s feelings, apologize. Even if you know you were right, try to make up with your family. The holidays only come once a year, and you are so much stronger and better than a petty little argument.

I wish you the very happiest holiday season and hope you don’t need to use any of these. The best offense is always a good defense, so try to set some boundaries before you go anywhere for Christmas Eve/Christmas dinner.

What is the stupidest thing your family has ever argued about? Comment below!