Tuesday, November 29, 2011

5 Ways to Increase Success at Holiday Dinners

Q. We have many family dinners to attend over the next several weeks as Christmas approaches. I dread them every year because it feels like something always goes wrong. What are your suggestions for creating success at these family dinners?

A. What a great question! First off, let me tell you that you are not alone. Many people find the holidays to be very stressful due to family conflict or circumstances. Sometimes this is the only time of year that you and your loved ones are all in the same room. That can be a whole lot of personality in on place.

Below, I have listed five things you can do to increase success at family dinners. Hopefully by spending some time planning for your family time and preparing your heart, you can create success this holiday season!

1. Keep Conversations Positive and Include Everyone
  • Don't bring up subjects you know will create divisiveness or topics that are not pleasant. If you know that you or one of your family members disagrees on a certain topic, this is not the time to debate out who is right and who is wrong.
  • Instead stick to topics that are broad that everyone can contribute too. You might even ask direct questions of those who don't participate as much.
  • Click here for some great conversation starter ideas.
2. Eliminate Distractions - Unplug
  • Don't have the television on in the background or any other electronic distractions. Focus your conversations on each other and what is going on in your lives.
  • Also, encourage others to have their cell phones put away. People seem to divide their attention between family and their smartphones and texting. This takes away from the family atmosphere we are trying to create.
3. Provide an Activity for Young Children
  • One of the more distracting things that can happen at family dinner is children who are bored. Children do not enjoy sitting around just talking. Most of them need a tactile activity.
  • You could simply cover the kids' table in butcher paper and provide crayons, or you could go so far as to have coloring sheets out for when they finish their meal.
  • Encourage each child to participate. Maybe even some of the adults would want to get in on the fun
  • Click here for some coloring sheet activities.
4. Set Realistic Expectations
  • This can be one of the more crucial items on our list. Know ahead of time who is coming to dinner and set your personal expectations of the people in line with reality.
  • Don't set yourself up hoping that the one relative that is always cranky or negative will be different this year. Remind yourself that is their issue, and they do not have to steal your joy about the season.
  • If all else fails with your expectations, find something else positive about the dinner to focus on. Do not allow yourself to ruminate over what is going wrong when there are possibly many things that are going right.
5. Pray, Pray, Pray
  • Before you even step foot in that house for family dinner, bathe your time in prayer. There are several things you can pray for, but most importantly, pray for your own attitude and heart.
  • You can also spend time praying that God will allow you to show HIS glory no matter what is going on around you.
  • "A joyful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones" Proverbs 17:22 - Come ready to share a joyful heart and the overflow and abundance of this will surely impact your family.
I hope you find these 5 Ways to Increase Success at Holiday Dinners helpful. You can also check out these articles from previous years on how to deal with other stressful holiday situations.

How to Handle the Holiday Blues
Dealing with Grief at the Holidays

*This column is not intended to substitute for an actual session with a licensed counselor.

If you have a question you would like to ask, EMAIL US: askanne@abchome.org or leave a comment. We would love to answer one of your questions.

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