Ah, the holidays. Family, togetherness, and sometimes too much togetherness. And then there is an extended family who can bring everything from excitement to awkwardness.
Are you going to be a guest in your in-law’s house this year? Or are you hosting the partner of a grown up son or daughter? If you are, then you will probably be dreading the awkwardness of conversations drying up, or people standing on ceremony, unsure what to do with themselves.
1. Keep the holiday spirit alive in your house
I have been the partner of the grown-up son in my future in-laws home for the holidays. It is a bit uncomfortable for both parties at first until everyone relaxes into things and finds their place.
I remember feeling a wave of relief when my father-in-law-to-be whipped out the Trivial Pursuit, so we no longer had to make small talk about my career. Suddenly, it felt like a holiday.
2. Consider some festive games
Games are fantastic to break the ice and get everybody relaxed. They are also amazing for giving kids some focus and keeping them happy. The most inclusive kinds of games are the ones that do not pit intellects too strongly against each other.
The ones that are more physical and even silly can be the best icebreakers as they do not come with any pressure to perform, and also do not result in any sulking from sore losers. And I do not just mean the kids. There is always one grown up the sore loser in every family.
3. Old classics with festive twists
Pin the tale on the donkey is not just for kids. It is also hilarious with adults who have had a couple of festive tipples. Give it a festive twist and pin the red nose on Rudolph. This is the sort of game that all age groups can join in with together and usually, results in uncontrollable giggles and a few great snaps for Facebook.
4. The culinary and the creative
Have you ever had a biscuit decorating contest? How about baking some Christmas biscuits then having everyone decorate their own. Award points for the most festive, the funniest, the most over-decorated and anything else you can think of. Everyone can win a ‘category’ to eliminate competitiveness and just make it about having fun.
5. When you need a break from the kids
At some point in the day, we grown ups will have long-since broken the ice and will be ready to wind down with a nice ‘adult beverage’ and some conversation to suit. The chances are, the kids in the house are still hyper with holiday excitement and do not want to let you have any peace.
This is where my favorite kids game comes in – the candy hunt. Rather like the traditional Easter egg hunt, hide wrapped pieces of festive candy all over the house and garden, and then exhale as the kids run off from under your feet.
Once the kids are settled in bed for the night, if you are feeling brave enough to invoke the wrath of your competitive family member, then you could get out the Pictionary. Now pour yourself one of those well-deserved ‘adult beverages’ and relax.