Ways to feel peace and joy when your in-laws, aunts and uncles are questioning every life choice you’ve ever made.

By Dina Roth Port
Updated December 04, 2017
Family members arriving at house with holiday gifts
Credit: SolStock/Getty Images

Ah, the holidays! ‘Tis the season of spending quality time with loved ones—too bad some of those loved have a lot of opinions about your life, and they’re not afraid to let you know. You might be bombarded with questions such as, “When are you going to start having kids?” or “How come you let your child watch so much TV?” Another favorite: “I see you didn’t eat dessert. You’re not on one of those crazy diets, are you?”

It’s all too easy to get into an argument with such a judgy relative, but that's a sure way to wreck your holiday spirit (and probably the entire day). Instead, try these genius, disarming tricks:

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Family members arriving at house with holiday gifts
Credit: SolStock/Getty Images

1 Kill ’em with kindness.

When your aunt tells you your Christmas ham is too dry or your Hanukah latkes aren’t crispy enough, thank her profusely and tell her you’ll remember that for next year. You can even ask for her recipe (and then promptly misplace it when you get home).

2 Write some zingers before you go.

If you just know certain relatives are going to barrage you with questions about, say, your single status or your plan to switch careers, come up with some witty answers about that specific topic ahead of time. That will give you more confidence as you head into dinner. For instance, if someone says, “I can’t believe you haven’t found the right guy yet—you must be very picky,” be prepared with a comeback such as, “Well, you know, I found him, but he just got engaged to Meghan Markle, darn it! I guess I have to start looking again.”

3 Get your cousin to talk about his dog.

If a family member just won’t stop their invasive and obnoxious questioning, turn to someone else at the table and ask about something in their life that you know they love to talk about (like their pet labradoodle or their child’s lacrosse team). If you change the topic while keeping the mood positive and light, other relatives should follow suit.

4 Hang out away from the spotlight.

If the judgy relative is starting to really get under your skin, excuse yourself from the table and pretend to take a bathroom break. A looong bathroom break. You can always volunteer to start cleaning the dishes, or ask one of the kids to teach you how to play Minecraft. Hopefully, by the time you rejoin the conversation it will have shifted to something less annoying, like politics (kidding!).

5 Duck out early.

Can’t take it anymore? There’s no harm in cutting the evening short. Put on your biggest smile, say what a wonderful time you had, then announce you need to beat traffic to get home. Once safely back at your place, grab yourself a glass of wine and curl up on the couch to watch The Crown or old episodes of The Office. You survived another holiday with the know-it-alls, so cheers!