The holidays, for some, are the most wonderful times of the year. For others, the holidays can be a stressful time. Getting families together and putting on big meals is a stressful enough task but if you add on boredom or high emotions then things can get explosive. Here are six ways to navigate holiday landmines!

1. Make the food together

It’s definitely easier to do premade food, especially with everyone’s busy schedules; however, it’s not the healthiest way to do things. Getting people together to cook the meal will also bring everyone closer. Having a couple of people aid with the meal prep will make them appreciate the meal more, and delegating tasks will help take things off your plate. It’s a holiday for you, too, so make sure to enlist assistance!

2. Avoid sensitive subjects

Politics, religion, or “hot button” issues that have caused opposing sides are typically considered taboo topics. Avoiding these topics will go a long way to foster positive conversations. By expressing your views on these topics you may inadvertently insult another person’s views and make things uncomfortable. Instead, consider discussing the wellbeing of others’ families, newspaper stories (try to stick to the positive or unusual stories), sports, sharing good news about mutual friends, a new television show you’ve discovered, and general interest topics.

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3. Volunteer your time to help the less fortunate

It might sound cliché that helping the less fortunate during the holidays will make your holidays seem richer, but it’s really effective! Some people will say that we only do good deeds to feel better about

ourselves. I say, “Who cares?” A deed that benefits others is not a selfish one. Some of the homeless shelters have their volunteer lists fill up fast, so it’s best to plan that earlier rather than later. But there are many options for last minute activities. Food banks and churches often have events and programs happening during the holiday seasons so you can always reach out to get involved. If you want, you could put together a care package of a sandwich with toiletries, socks, and underwear. You could then visit one of the shelters and hand them out. The clients that frequent these locations are always interested in those items!

4. Get in the hot seat

A nice tradition that many families have is to go around the table and say something for which they’re thankful. This is great for reflecting on the best times of the year, or even reminding yourself about the things that you hold dear. Another tradition for some families that might be nice to try is going around the table and for whomever is in the hot seat have everyone say one nice thing about them and go around the table until everyone has had a turn. This will surely help bring people closer together and spread joy.

5. Go for a walk

If we are fortunate enough to have some nice weather for Thanksgiving, it is always a great idea to get the family together post-meal and go for a walk! Aside from working off some of the guaranteed over-eating, it’s a refreshing activity that will keep the mood light and rejuvenate people’s spirits!

6. Be safe

Break-and-enters and fires are risks during the holidays. Many people are out of their house visiting family, but also have turkeys cooking in their ovens unattended. Criminals know that a lot of people will be out for at least a couple of hours around meal times and maybe even for an entire weekend. Make sure to take extra precautions to hinder burglars and if possible, have someone check the house. Avoid leaving ovens on while you are out of the house or have a neighbour check in on the place as often as possible. At the very least, don’t leave pets locked up in the house with the oven going.