How to Avoid Family Drama During the Holidays


In an ideal world, the holidays would only be filled with good times and happy memories. Unfortunately, most people don’t exist in that uncomplicated reality.

It seems like every family has at least one relative who excels at creating drama during the holidays. When you’re around such negative or aggressive people, it’s common to feel apprehensive, defensive, and uncomfortable. Your body may react to heightened situations by secreting excessive amounts of adrenaline or cortisol, which can make you feel even more anxious and stressed.

Family Conflict Instigators

There are many reasons why arguments flare up during holiday gatherings. Some people want to be the center of every conversation. Other family members just enjoy creating drama.

Here’s a look at some common instigators of family conflicts:

The Meddler

Every family gathering is sure to have a gossiper, whose negative or critical remarks ignite emotional brushfires everywhere she goes. Also present at many holiday get-togethers is the offensive loudmouth, who has no filter and doesn’t hesitate to inform you that you’ve gained weight since the last time he saw you.

The Liquidator

Alcohol can make some people happy and others moody and mean. Liquid courage has been known to loosen tongues and lower inhibitions. For people who love stirring the pot by bringing up controversial or politically charged topics, alcohol can act as an accelerant for all manner of bad behaviors.

The Antagonizer

A family member may have aggressive tendencies that drives them to be combative. Many people are stimulated by arguments and seek out conflict. If they can lure you into a debate, the low energy in their frontal brain is stimulated, and that rush temporarily makes them feel better.

Don’t let your anger become their medication. They can get addicted to it!

So, how do you handle someone who thrives on conflict? Fighting fire with fire, by raising your voice or using abusive or unsavory language, certainly won’t help matters.

Avoiding confrontations isn’t the answer either, since minimizing or brushing aside a dispute may further embolden the aggressor and make things even worse. To effectively deal with disagreements, handle them calmly and appropriately as they happen.

Here are some practical ways to prevent family strife this holiday season:

Simple Ways to Keep the Peace & Avoid Holiday Feuds

How to Avoid Family Drama During the Holidays | BrainMD

Keep Your Cool

To prevent a pressure-packed situation from getting out of hand, always keep your cool. Discipline yourself to remain quiet until you’re calm enough to speak at a normal volume and in a kind tone. Closely monitor your comments and reactions to make sure they’re coming from a rational place, rather than an emotional one.

Be sure to offer thoughtful advice rather than criticism. Tone of voice is crucial in disarming a potentially volatile situation. Always model calm behavior and others will likely follow your example.

Take a Time-out

When someone raises their voice or begins to lose their temper, take a family time-out. This type of collective breather involves everyone in the family going to a separate part of the house for a designated period (typically 10-15 minutes).

Spending some time away from other family members may help everyone settle down and forget about the argument. A cooldown period only works if you have buy-in from the entire family, so make sure everyone agrees with taking a time-out to avoid starting yet another argument.

Distract Yourself

Some people have the ability to mentally escape to a happy place during heated discussions or tense moments. Others can sing a song in their head to distract themselves.

Hopefully, you won’t have to literally bite your tongue to remain silent, but whatever you need to do to keep from being dragged into the middle of a family feud is worth trying.

Try Whispering

When others are yelling, start whispering. The dramatic change in the decibel level of your voice will most likely make everyone stop talking to hear what you have to say. Something in our psyche makes us lean in and listen more attentively when someone is whispering.

This tactic has been used with great success from board rooms to political assemblies. If a family argument is getting out of control, try whispering to see if you can get everyone’s attention. Then you can attempt to deescalate the conflict.

Build a Bridge

Instead of trying to convince the other person that your viewpoint is correct, attempt to understand their perspective as well. The main objective isn’t to win the argument but to remove potential threats, address concerns, and find common ground with the other person.

Building a bridge is one of the best ways to avert a quarrel before it even starts.

Take It Outside

When drawn into a discussion that makes you feel uncomfortable, look for a way to redirect the conversation. If that doesn’t work, find a polite way to remove yourself from the situation.

Another strategy is to get the entire family outside for some fun and exercise. This is an effective way to let off some steam when things get too tense inside the house.

It’s been said that the holidays bring out the best and worst in people. When it comes to the latter, you don’t have to let someone else ruin your holiday.

Practicing these conflict management strategies can help to ensure that everyone in your family enjoys a fun-filled, stress-free holiday season.

The BrainMD team wishes you and yours a safe, healthy, and happy Holiday Season! 

At BrainMD, we’re dedicated to providing the highest purity nutrients to improve your physical health and overall well-being. For more information about our full list of brain healthy supplements, please visit us at BrainMD.


Keith Rowe
5 2 votes
Article Rating
Notify of
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Cindy Howell

Such good advice! Hard to do in the moment for sure…intentionally planning and prayer helps❣️

Donna M Hopcraft

Yes. Ice skating. A movie. A focus. So there is something you can all share in and best behavior. Not just sitting at table drinking and arguments start. Praying I do.
Nothing at all works on a belligerent person. Because they don’t think they are the problem! We are picking up the pieces of our lives and going on without her. She moved far away. She never stopped by to tell us. Big hint. Hater. We are okay.
Merry Christmas.

Donna M Hopcraft

Yes. My daughter said goodbye to me again. So I told her I’m going to teach you a really good lesson. 2014 she said goodbye to me. If I called her again she will call police. She’s an alcoholic and does drugs. All her friends committed suicide or died of drugs. She brought excons for boyfriend’s to my home. I thought she didn’t know better. I now found out she was retaliating against me. In 10 years I saw her twice in 2014. Zero in 2015 2016. Christmas she asks for help moving and she needs place to stay from drug addict boyfriend. She left him. 2017 she stayed home 3 wks. 10 pm to 3 am drinking at bar. Slept all day. Ate pizza once with us. I bought Chinese food. Started argument over a difference of opinion. The kind of people she hangs out with. Left home for good. I thought because I wanted to order Chinese again. She reminded me she paid for pizza. I just sat quiet while she wanted. It’s easier. Remain calm. I touched my wrist to listen to my heartbeat. Best emotional stressbuster I ever used. She was mad because we don’t agree on a certain class of people we refuse to associate with. Her boyfriend told me she let 2 men pick her up on the street.

I now believe him. I’m missing things every time she came home. Makeup. Clothing. Dishes. A frying pan. Silverware.

2017 she visited my father dying in hospice. I couldn’t walk at the time. Bone in my left foot came loose. I missed his funeral too. She was talking to him for years. He told me not to encourage her visit to him at Christmas 2010. I never told her. I argued with him because he said why can’t she be normal and settle down. 34 then. I never preached to my kids about marriage home and family because Mom and Dad did!

Will she ever see that he shunned her too!
Mom died 2001. My Dad never visited us in our home. 31 yrs here. She argued with me 2013 because I said goodbye Dad. I think she copied me. My father was a very cruel man. He didn’t call me when Mom was alive.
I called her once a wk. She wasn’t allowed to call me. Her last 2 yrs she called me twice. Hooray Mom!
2018 2019 zero daughter. I inherited from Dad. She says I can call her now. 1 call for Mother’s Day 2018. 2019 I called her. 2020 She called us too. We met at hotel for Christmas family reunion. I gave her money too. Gifts exchanged. Photos.
2021 she blocked me on Facebook. Took all our photos from me too. No gifts cards 2021 2022. I told her NO CARDS NO GIFTS.
We did not receive a card this year. I’m not sending her money anymore either. I’m not a bank daughter! She blocked her brothers text. He didn’t answer her call last week.
We are making a stand at rudeness. Unkindness. And total disrespect from her.
We are not taking it anymore! She’s TOXIC!
THANKS Tana for your message in May. I feel better as a person first. I got my Donna back. As Mom if one a waitress told me last week You did good Mom. He’s a good guy.
Thank you Kevin.
Merry Christmas and hopefully a Happier New Year. I’m having a wonderful holiday season. I was strong enough to stand up and cook turkey this year. Everything. I was being codependent to alcoholic daughter.
I attended Al-Anon. I know what I have to do now.
Take very good care of me. 73. She’s estranged child now. God bless you all.