1. Make it a formal affair. As we mentioned in our recent blog post on creating a glamorous Thanksgiving, set the tone of the party and keep things cordial by encouraging all family members to dress for the occasion. They will be much more inclined to be on their best behavior and turn on the charm than if they had arrived as if they had just rolled out of bed.
2. Keep it light and breezy. It is a well-known fact that humor is the best remedy to loosen things up and relieve a tense situation. Levity is definitely the way to go with those family members who are wound up too tight. If the air is so thick you can cut it with a knife, put on a funny holiday movie, crack a few jokes or rally a spontaneous game of charades which is always guaranteed to make people laugh. This should help alleviate the tension and hopefully make everyone forget their troubles (at least for a while).
3. Refrain from pushing each other’s buttons. Family members are usually acutely aware of just the right button to push that will set another family member off towards the deep end. Bite your tongue, count to ten, run a lap around the block, do whatever you can to abstain from saying the wrong thing that may potentially ruin the entire occasion. You have the control and it is within your power to hold back, smile and rise above the situation.
4. Compliments are better than criticism. When we relax and are truly present for one another it is easy to find something nice to say that will make the other person feel good and loved during this time of year. Compliments are always well-received. It doesn’t have to be anything earth-shattering, but it should definitely be authentic. After you pay a compliment, you may be pleasantly surprised by a normally restrained family member, who now feels more inclined to pay you a compliment in return.5. Try to be thankful. Recognize the obvious and be thankful for the small things. If family members are able to attend Thanksgiving then that is a blessing in itself. For older relatives, this may be their last. You never know what the future holds so cherish each moment together, appreciate each other and focus on only the positive, unique attributes. Finally, before you gorge yourself with the Thanksgiving feast, go around the table and say one thing you are thankful for and maybe even one nice thing to each person at the table. This will bring contentment and peace to everyone attending and isn’t that all we really want anyway?