How To Survive Holiday Dinner With Nosy, Judge-y Relatives

Survive holiday dinner even if you're surrounded by nosy aunts, naughty nephews, and drunkles. Here's how. #familytips #selfcare #boundaries #holidaytips #communication
This season is a celebration of family and gratitude and the fruits of our labor, right? Well, yes.

Annnnd it’s also the only time of year you see those weird cousins with the mullets and eat so much your eyes cross. It isn’t always easy to navigate the deep waters of extended family and sweet potato casseroles.


Your snarky second cousin eyes that empty ring finger and starts quizzing you on your dating status.

Laugh knowingly, slap her on the knee and say “Ohhh, you! Now tell me where you got this great applique sweatshirt! I love that penguin pilgrim!”


Creepy Uncle Joe has a few too many glasses of Thanksgiving Bud Light and decides that you need a back massage.

Give him the dead eye and say, “You know what I’m thankful for this year? Personal boundaries.”


Your sister’s tiny darlings more closely resemble gremlins and spend the afternoon climbing all over you, screaming about grandma’s lack of Wii and torturing the family pet.

Devotedly wait for the tryptophan to kick in. Failing that, perform the 1-2 punch of playground time followed by a darkened movie theater. Works every time. At least, it works on me.


Aunt Judy brought her famous ‘Sunshine Salad’ which consists of orange jello, grated carrots, mayonnaise, and raisins. You’d rather chew off your arm.

Make sure she’s looking while you take one bite and enthuse “Mmmmm! That sure is something!” Hide the rest of it under your baked potato skins.


The host of the meal is acting the martyr, rushing about, sighing dramatically and refusing help from anyone.

Sidle into the kitchen and compliment your host on her excellent taste in aprons. Don’t ask, just join in the chopping while you regale your host with hilarious anecdotes of Thanksgivings past. Graciously thank her for including you in the festivities and tell her how much it means to you to spend time with these people you love.


You’ve stuffed yourself to near sickness and are now wallowing on the sofa like Al Bundy, torturing yourself with visions of the elliptical machine.

Have a cup of coffee and go for a walk. Better yet, change into the post-dinner outfit you brought of yoga pants and a concert t-shirt.

How do you deal with days of extended family and gastronomic excess?

P.S. A book that’s helpful year-round, but ESPECIALLY this time of year: Set Boundaries, Find Peace.

Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

Welcome to Yes & Yes!

Want to spend your time, money, and energy on purpose? I'll show you how.

You might also like…

5 Ways To Deal When Your Day Gets Off Course

5 Ways To Deal When Your Day Gets Off Course

I wish my day got off course for a cool, sexy reason but the truth is this: My 19-year-old cat started coughing in a “doesn’t sound like a hairball OH GOD IS THIS THE END” way and I had to panic / soothe him / soothe myself / fall down a Google hole about cat...

read more


  1. Anonymous

    Wow–seriously: I have an Aunt Judy who has her own specialty "salad" that includes both jello and things that ought not be set in jello. And she watches like a hawk to see who takes some and who doesn't. (Luckily, my family's dinners usually involve everyone serving themselves from the food table and dispersing to wherever to sit down and eat, so it's pretty easy to avoid Aunt Judy and/or surreptitiously throw away the rest of my serving!)

    • cleo raven zins

      jello should never be mixed with anything but booze.

  2. Heidi

    Scenario: Your estranged sister approaches you to make conversation. Based on her life choices, you want to avoid conversation while still being loving.

    Solution: As soon as you see her, initiate some small talk about the weather and the drive. Politely excuse yourself to use the bathroom. Do not continue the conversation. Congrats! You have successfully acknowledged her and broken the ice for when you will later ask her to pass the mashed sweet potatoes.

    • Sarah Von Bargen

      Yes! Well played!

Pin It on Pinterest