Pulling through a large family gathering unscathed and happy can, in some instances, be an extremely trying task. You may have a large family with extended branches growing ever-larger each year, or a more compact family that makes for a more intense time spent together. Either way, there’s a reason that, as an adult, you relish the time spent away from your family. After all, they can be difficult to hang out with for extended periods of time. Here are some quick tips to help you and your immediate family through the tough family meets involving a dozen uncles, aunties, cousins and so on that can sometimes be a drag.
Be Armed with Anecdotes
No one enjoys feeling trapped with nothing to say at large family get-togethers, especially if you don’t see some members often. Therefore, it’s best to come armed with some of your best stories to dazzle some of the family you don’t often see because this way, you’ll be able to avoid being tongue tied and sat in awkward silence. It also gives you a platform to get involved with the family banter before retreating to your partner to relax in their company away from the obligations to chat with your family.
If you have children, you’ll have plenty to talk about with relatives who’ve got children roughly the same age, perhaps your brothers or sisters, or your in-laws. This conversation again can range from funny stories about the kids, or genuinely helpful tips and tricks to parenting that can be one of the best outcomes from busy and hectic family affairs. Most of all, though, whether you like to be the life and soul of the party or you’ll be checking your watch to see when it’ll be acceptable to leave, make sure your closest at the gathering are having a good time – your own children, and your partner.
Look that Part
Family events more often than not involve a great feast and, once all the children are put to bed or busy watching a film, a few drinks with all the adults coming together to discuss life. It can be all rather amicable, or it can be an absolute pain. In any case, though, you’ll want to look good when in the presence of your extended family, and that means smart and clean clothes for everyone you’re attending the get-together with, whether that be just you and your partner or the two of you plus the children.
Having your children dress up for large family events will convey some level of smartness and discipline in your family, even if it’s not usually what your kids would wear. Find some children’s clothing websites, check it out for smart attire, and get your children suited and booted, which also serves the purpose, somewhat, of communicating to them that they’re expected to be well-behaved for the duration of the family get-together, while you also look good beside your well-dressed kids.
Families come together for these big events to share happy memories, to catch up on the intervening time between now and the last event, and to meet new members of the extended family, whether that be new partners or children. On the surface, they are simply a large gathering of happy and similar people, though this can often not feel like the case in reality. But the additional thing to remember about these get-togethers is that they’re an important form of the support structure, and are a great way of ensuring that everyone in your large extended family is healthy and happy.
That’s why you should always be a little vigilant in family events for anyone you may feel is struggling in one way or another. It’s also why you should approach the elders in the family with your own problems, should they become something that you need financial or emotional support with. Being generous to your family is one of those things that makes familial bonds so unique. You’ll happily give large interest-free loans out, and you won’t bat an eyelid in looking after your brother’s children for a week if you’re asked. The support structure is out there for all members so that you can make use of it one day you’re in need, too.
This tip is mostly aimed at the cynical family event attendee. Perhaps it’s not your family but a family of in-laws, the majority of whom you think are ever-so-slightly deranged, the sort of attendee who needs to know that they won’t be staying than longer than is necessary. It involves a pre-conceived exit strategy that can involve all manner of hints, winks, and nudges in order to get your message across to your partner that you’ve had enough and you’d really rather like to get out as soon as possible.
The best exit strategy, of course, is children. If you’re able to extricate yourself ostensibly on the part of your children, then you’ll be virtually able to high-tail it out of there at a moment’s notice to avoid any of the latter parts of a family get-together that you are certain you’d rather avoid. If kids are out of the picture, then agreeing on something with your partner as to how you’ll excuse yourselves gently and without all that much fuss will be a conversation worth having on the drive to the event: never have it at the party or gathering itself. Once you’re there, it’s best to at least attempt to have an enjoyable time of it all rather than whispering in ears about the soonest you’ll be able to make your leave.
Family gatherings can be tough, and it’s no surprise that the more extended and obscure your family gets, the less you have in common so that the biggest family gatherings feel confusing and bemusing in equal measure. These tips may or may not get you through your next family event, but hopefully, they’ve communicated that you’re not alone in avoiding these large obligatory events.