7 Tips for a Horrible Holiday

Are you looking forward to the next round of family holidays?  I’m lucky, I like my family, in fact, I love them.

Yet as I listen to people complain about their awful in-laws, crazy sister or cheapskate uncle, I realize, not everyone is so lucky.  If you have horrible family members, you have a choice: you can be a beacon of grace, or you can stay miserable.  I hope you choose grace.  But if you’re going to choose misery, by all means go all in with it.

I’m a strategy consultant; I know how to create a plan. Usually, I help well-intended people improve their situation and relationships. But this year, I’ve feeling generous toward the martyrs.  So I’ve created a seven point strategy for anyone who wants to have a horrible holiday season:

  1. Compare everything to TV – Is your daughter-in-law’s kitchen fit for Joanna Gaines?  If not, be sure to comment on it.  And if the kids aren’t as well behaved as they were in your day?  Point that out too, and make sure you say it loudly enough for everyone else to hear.


  1. Ruminate about past hurts – Forget grace and forgiveness, it’s the holidays. Start stewing about past injustices now so by the time you see your family you’ll already have worked yourself up into awful mood.  Just because it happened a long time ago, or was entirely unintentional, that’s no reason for you to let it go.


  1. Insist on having everything your way – Other family member’s traditions are irrelevant. What’s really important is everyone conforming to the perfect picture of Christmas you have in your head.  If they like ham, and you’re a turkey crowd, don’t even think about compromising your values.


  1. Refuse all offers of help – Let’s face, other people just don’t do things right so why bother asking them? Besides how can you play the martyr if you don’t stay up all night and get yourself stressed out?   It’s easier to resent people if you don’t let them do anything.


  1. Rehash old arguments – If you’ve festered long enough (see tip 3) you should be ready to blow by Christmas Eve.  A mental list of old grievances is handy, but you don’t want to leave this to chance, so compile a written list of all the things anyone has ever done to make you angry.  Use it as a guide during your tirade.


  1. Be cheap about sleeping arrangements – If you’re visiting out of town family, don’t waste money on a comfortable room in a nearby hotel.  An old sofa bed with a skinny mattress and a thick metal bar in the center of it, will insure that you wake up cranky from day one.  Plus tossing and turning all night will help you relive all those past arguments and hurts (See tips 2 and 5).


  1. Evaluate all gifts– Graciousness and gratitude are passé.  Evaluate gifts based on how much money they spent, and how well they know your personal preferences. You may see them only see them sporadically, but if your family really cared about you, they’d know you like vanilla scented candles, not cranberry ones.

Being miserable takes works.  But if you put your mind to it, and follow these tips, you too can have a horrible holiday.