In a perfect world, the holiday season would be filled with decadent meals, fruity cocktails, and cozy laughter by the fireside. But between all of the aunts asking why you haven’t settled down yet, the crying babies, and the classic fights between mom and dad, the holidays tend to always come with a side order of family drama.

To avoid losing your mind amidst all of the holiday cheer, here are five tips to make the most out your family holiday parties this season.

Manage your expectations
You might have a fantasy of a picture-perfect holiday, but instead of dreaming of situations that likely aren’t going to happen, be realistic about what to expect. “Holiday season rolls around and we suddenly hope that our family and friends will get along, behave, and not cause any trouble,” says licensed psychotherapist Whitney Hawkins. “No family is perfect — and expecting it to be on the holidays often sets you up for failure. Know that the occasion may have some bumps in the road, but you can still enjoy the time surrounded by your loved ones.”

Go in with a game plan
Be prepared with responses to typical questions you might expect family members to ask. “Many people dread the ‘When are you getting married? When are you having a baby?’ comments and questions,” says relationship therapist Carolyn Cole.  “You know your family and can probably predict what they might say or ask. Have a short neutral answer prepared, which also may be a way to set a boundary, and then redirect the conversation and ask your family questions to change the focus.”

Identify your support system
When things start to get crazy, have a go-to person that can help bring the mood up. Whether there’s a particular family member you have a closer relationship with or a friend or partner you can bring to the party for support, having people around you who have your back will help put you at ease.

Don’t drink too much
Nothing good ever came from a drunken argument. “Although family may stress you out, if you’re drinking to get through it, that only has the potential to bring out uncensored comments and emotions and likely will not have the best outcome,” says Cole.

Don’t forget about self-care
Just because you’re traveling or spending time with others doesn’t mean you should forget about taking care of yourself. “If you are feeling overwhelmed during a family holiday event, it’s OK to excuse yourself to get a breather,” says Cole. “Whether it’s going for a walk or escaping to the bathroom for some minutes of privacy as an escape, that is OK.”

xx, The FabFitFun Team