A guide to surviving your family

Spiked eggnog © Hungry Couple

You love your sister but you’re not sure if her husband has any concept of spatial boundaries, your uncle brought home his new “lady friend” with her augmented “personality,” your mom was guilted into inviting her co-worker Debbie Downer, and all of a sudden the decked halls of your living room have become the chamber walls to the dungeon of family festivity.
Ahh, the holidays! A time to love and cherish those with whom you share DNA and forcefully tolerate their plus-ones. Let’s face it, family photos are posed for a reason, and once you’ve unwrapped yet another sweater from Grandma, hours of halitosis and bad punch lines still stand between you and the start of the next 365-day cycle.
Fear not, victim of sibling matrimony; this year is going to be different. With a little planning and enough spiked eggnog, there is a way you can find solace in the doldrums of holidays with the in-laws.
First you must ask yourself, on a scale of one to 10, how intolerable is the situation at hand?

1–3: Extreme Holiday

The premise: You are now a stealth Ty Pennington, and you are about to recreate your mother’s winter wonderland in the style that fits your holiday cheer. The object of the game is to move all of the trinkets, table ornaments and other “decorative” items so that the dungeon of family festivity is entirely rearranged by the time the sun sets.
The stakes: For every time you are asked about why you are moving an object, you must either a) take a drink of your beverage or b) ask to hear a story you’ve already heard. If granted the luxury of one tolerable and equally mischievous cousin or sibling, consider inviting them to join and increase the competition.
Please note: Items are not limited by size, nor are they considered “moved” if they are less than a foot from their original placement. This game is best for those with high tolerance levels, because necessary mobility will undoubtedly result in conversations with all guests.
Cocktail pairing: Spiked eggnog. You’ll be doing a lot of socializing, so consider a slow-sipper.
4 ounce eggnog
1/2 ounce cognac
1/2 ounce bourbon
Garnish: dash of nutmeg

4–6: The Sym-PHONE-y Strategy

What you will need:
–A smart phone
–The phone numbers of
–Keen knowledge of
conversation timing
Prior to the event, acquire the phone numbers of guests attending. Be the first to arrive so that you can greet them as they arrive and take their jackets. With your gracious gesture, lightly suggest where they should go in the room (e.g. “Make yourself at home on the couch. I can’t wait to catch up!”). Once all of the guests are in place, excuse yourself to the restroom. On your smartphone, quickly input their phone numbers in a sequential order to “Phonemyphone.com,” a website that will schedule electronic phone calls at selected times. Factor in uneven intervals of less than 5 minutes per conversation, and just as they begin to ask how your love life is going, their phone will ring. At this moment you will say, “Oh shoot! I’ll let you get that. We have all afternoon to chat,” before moving on to the next conversation or sneaking off to the kitchen for a delicious diversion.
Cocktail pairing: Spanish coffee. This one takes some effort, so you will have more tending bar to concentrate on and less conversation.
Ingredients and tools:
3/4 ounce 151-proof rum
1/2 ounce triple sec
2 ounce Kahlua
3 ounce freshly brewed coffee
Orange slice
Sugar for rim
Whipped cream
Dash of cinnamon and nutmeg
Lighter or matches
Using your orange slice, coat the rim in fruit juice and place glass face down in sugar so as to use the rim of juice as sugar adhesive. Add the rum and the triple sec to the sugar-rimmed glass and light it on fire. Add Kahlua (which should put out the flame) and top with hot coffee. Garnish with whipped cream and a dash of cinnamon and nutmeg.

7–10: Stop, Drop and Role Play

What you’ll need:
–A paid actor or hunky
–A fireman’s suit (for added
–Ideally, a room with only
one major exit
After you have made it through all of the important activities—presents, feasting and possibly acquiring a light buzz—you will have completed your holiday mission. You may feel trapped in the house, so you will need some air. Open a window within earshot of an external hiding place and give a cue such as, “What a beautiful day!” Listen for a pre-planned birdcall, then resume your place near the front door. All of a sudden everyone will hear a strong rapping at the door, and you will be there to answer it, bewildered and frightened to see a fireman in full garb. You will let him in and he will announce he is the local fire marshal. He will say that in order to prevent holiday accidents, the fire department is making its way through the neighborhood in a fire safety campaign. After all, the holidays are one of the most dangerous times when it comes to accidents. It is with a heavy heart that he must request a couple of you to evacuate the premises at once due to overcapacity. You will put your hand on your heart, profusely thank the “marshal” for saving your lives and quickly volunteer to take one for the team by leaving. After all, the holidays are a great time for new blockbuster movies. Cha-ching!
Cocktail pairing: Peppermint patty shot. Better booze up quickly, because you won’t be hanging around long.
Ingredients :
1 ounce peppermint schnapps
1 ounce chocolate milk
1 squirt of chocolate syrup


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