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How to survive the holidays with your family

Naomi de la Torre is freelance writer and stay-at-home-mom with two delightful boys, ages three and six. Naomi has an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Arizona, is a self-proclaimed salsa diva, and can make a killer octopus ...

Holiday survival guide

The holidays are near and your Xanax prescription might not be enough. Spending the next few weeks with your mother-in-law -- whose favorite activity is counting the calories you consume and telling you why her dogs deserve a room of their own -- may in fact drive you over the edge of sanity this year. Learn time-tested tips for surviving the holidays when it's all in the family.

stressed out woman during the holidays

Keep your sense of humor

Let's face facts. Everyone's family is a little bit crazy (some more than others), and the holidays often contain more stress than we are willing to admit. Instead of feeling flustered and embarrassed while Uncle Elbert spends the greater portion of Christmas dinner trying to get your sister's boyfriend to sign up for his Ponzi scheme and your mother-in-law shows up with all three of her Great Danes to stay the week, pretend your life is a TV sitcom and have a good laugh. Remember, whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger. (With the exception of Grandma's vegetarian mincemeat and tofu pie. That might actually do you in, so be careful.)

Read more on tips for surviving less-than-perfect holidays >>

Keep it real

Don't kid yourself. The perfect, magical holidays sold to us in commercials are nothing but a peppermint fantasy. This is real life, and yes, that's your grandma standing on the porch cursing out the neighbors in her underwear. Skip the required viewing of It's a Wonderful Life, grab an extra mug of eggnog and join your grandma on the porch. This might be fun after all.

Learn more holiday tips for coping with difficult family members >>

Set boundaries

While it might not be easy to turn away your mother-in-law and her oversize pets when they show up at your door unannounced, remember that it is perfectly okay to set boundaries. "Sure, Mom! We'd love to have your very large, hairy dogs stay for the week even though the kids and I are allergic. I prepared a lovely shelter in the backyard for them. I just hope they won't get their new Christmas sweaters dirty."

More tips for how to handle the mother-in-law from hell >>

Bring a decoy

You've survived holidays filled with burnt turkeys, embarrassing home videos, Jell-O pudding fights and drunken half-naked relatives playing Twister (yikes!). This time, bring your own distraction. Won't Christmas be even more fun when you show up with your new psychic pet ostrich at the door?

Does holiday stress have you frazzled? Don't miss our stress-less holiday guide >>

Get a hotel

Sure, the whole family might be coming to spend the week at your house, but it's totally okay to get a hotel! Trust me. It will be that much easier to handle your passive aggressive Aunt Rita when she accuses you of running a hippie commune because you co-sleep with your children if you know that you'll be relaxing in your own private Jacuzzi in just a few short hours. Family holidays are important, but sanity is even better.

More on family holiday survival

Coping with family holiday stress
5 ways to survive the holidays with your kids
Staying sane while traveling with small children during the holidays

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