Originally published on The Erriah Group's blog in December of 2013. The Erriah Group was a consultancy startup that I worked for.

Communication is crucial to survive the rounds of holiday parties. Knowing when to bite your tongue is also key.

  1. Communicate about logistics. Make sure you know the time, place, and what to bring. You don’t want to step on someone’s cookie game when you were supposed to bring an app- unnecessary feuding that could have been avoided by a phone call.
  2. Avoid controversial topics. Politics and religion tend to be the biggest hot button issues, but you know your family best. If you feel yourself offending someone, apologize and move onto lighter conversation.
  3. Less is more. Not everything requires a response; try smiling and nodding politely. The old idiom “if you don’t have anything nice to say, say nothing at all” is a cliché for a reason.
  4. Have a few prepared topics. Have a few things to discuss at the ready that won’t stir controversy.
  5. Watch your buzz. By all means, have a drink but be careful that you don’t end up partaking in your own private drinking game (kid throws a tantrum: drink, Uncle Joe says something off-color: drink). Getting drunk could get ugly- those snarky responses to Uncle Joe you were holding back? Those are sure to come out. If you feel yourself getting too inebriated, grab something to eat, water, and coffee.
  6. Offer to help. Help clean, set the table, etc. Just do something!
  7. Say thank you. Communicate your gratitude to the host. If you’re the host, thank everyone for coming, especially if they brought something.