Christmas Chaos: 7 Awkward Moments + How to Address Them

‘Tis the season for sentimental songs and movies full of love and togetherness. Don’t get us wrong, we enjoy the warm fuzzies that come along with the holidays, but we also know that Christmas magic only extends so far. Your family is still the same family you’ve known and loved your whole life, and, unfortunately, Aunt Edna’s ugly Christmas sweater doesn’t wrap around her mouth.

But don’t despair. We’ve collaborated with Linda Finke (RN, PhD), professor of nursing and executive director of health clinics at IPFW to create a definitive survival guide for both hosts and guests alike. Here’s to maintaining peace and goodwill this holiday season!

Dinner Dilemmas

“Is this stuffing gluten-free?”

Guest: Smile and bless the food you’re given, but feel free to only eat the things you like.

Host: Don’t call out a guest who either doesn’t seem hungry or may be a little picky. Likewise, don’t smother them with alternatives and draw attention to the matter. Instead, just do your best to plan the meal around a variety of tastes and various dietary restrictions.

Gift Déjà Vu

“Thanks Betty and Sandy and Jimmy and Grandma— I always wanted four food processors.”

Guest: Great minds think alike! Mention something to this effect. Laugh it off. And, as always, be gracious.

Host: Suggest everyone comes equipped with gift receipts. That way returns are at the discretion of the recipient, everyone gets what they want and no feelings are hurt.

Inappropriate Gifts

“Oh, cousin Vicki, what a lovely negligee. I’m only glad grandpa was here to film my surprise!”

Guest: If you’re the one receiving the gift of awkwardness, just be gracious and leave it at that. If you’re a spectator, keep quiet and divert your attention elsewhere.

Host: Don’t call attention to the issue. If anything needs to be addressed, do so in private at a later time.

Inappropriate Comments + Questions

“Nope, not pregnant—just filling out nicely.”

Guest: Anticipate what issues might come up, and rehearse some appropriate responses. It’s better to keep things light.

Host: Try to change the subject, and direct the group in a different direction— like perhaps towards the dessert table.

Unannounced Guests

“Guys, I’d like you to meet Brian. We met at the bar last week.”

Guest: It’s respectful to ask ahead of time before including an unexpected friend into the festivities. This will work to your advantage, as introductions will tend to be warmer and more relaxed.

Host: Always plan on making more than enough food, first off. Secondly, take a deep breath and simply accept whoever decides to show up. The more, the merrier Christmas.

Lingering Guests

“It’s been so good to see you too, Uncle Bobby. The past 14 hours and counting have just flown by!”

Guest: Always remember that you’re guests in a person’s home, and that person is probably going to be exhausted after catering this family function. Be sensitive to any cues for when it may be time to depart if no deadline has been defined.

Host: Specifying a start and end date to your gathering can eliminate any guesswork on the part of your guests. And if that doesn’t work, dropping phrases like, “Hope you had a good time,” or, “Well, it’s been fun,” will usually get the point across.

Drunk + Disorderly Guests

“Haha, I get it—just like ‘A Christmas Story.’ Now take the lampshade off your head, Mom.”

Guest: Don’t engage with the offending party, and help keep any children away from potentially damaging situations.

Host: Be vigilant and don’t be afraid to cut someone off. It’s also your responsibility to make sure intoxicated guests don’t drive themselves home. You might have to arrange transportation for a guest who’s had a few too many.

IPFW Behavioral Health, Fort Wayne, 260.481.6564,

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