The stockings are hung on the mantle with care, presents creatively wrapped with sustainable gift tags, your tablescape is on fleek and the menu is not only local produce, but pleases every nutrition request from your family. Especially if that family includes new family members: the in-laws.
Don't panic, we know your blood pressure is rising at the mention of the in-laws. Take a deep breath, grab your giant straw and wine bottle for your own personal drinking game.
1. Only those in the circle of trust can participate. If they are the cusp of trust -- looking at you flavor-of-the-month a.k.a. your brother's girlfriend of two minutes -- they are out.
2. This is a marathon, not a sprint. You automatically "lose" if you blackout, so don't be that person.
3. You also automatically lose if you are drinking any type of malt beverage. Sorry, cousin Al, you are definitely out.
4. Sip, gulp or shot of your beverage of choice -- not all three and not in-between rounds.
5. When you see "Social!" that means that everyone that is still in the game takes a swig.
Round 1: The Arrival
If the first words out of their mouths as they pass the doorway are any of the following:
1. "You look much healthier now with a few extra pounds."
2. "Looks like the front walk needs some salt and to be shoveled...and what happened to the wreath I gave you X-years ago?"
3. "Do you have White Zin? No, hmmm. How about Canadian Club?"
4. "Oh, the traffic over here!" (Social!)
Round 2: Awkward Apps
As you are running around finishing up meal prep to eat at the requested 4 PM start time.
1. If the whole family congregates in the kitchen while you are trying to cook, ignoring the adorable bar cart and living room set-up.
2. If MIL begins to clean something that does not need to be cleaned, but the judgy side eyes indicate otherwise.
3. FIL starts eating pieces of the main course from under the tinfoil.
4. Trump reference (Social!)
5. If they bring their own alcohol and then proceed to drink all of it.
Round 3: Let the Dinner Begin
Now that you have gotten through appetizers and cocktails -- not that you were able to enjoy any of that as someone has to cook with a crowd -- it's time to be seated and attempt to please everyone with your amazing feast.
1. Anytime gambling or card games such as canasta, pinochle or bridge are mentioned.
2. If MIL or FIL ask anyone in the family to help them set-up their Facebook, Facespace, MyFace or any combination of words involving them on social media.
3. MIL tries to place multiple helpings of the side dish she made on your plate.
4. A backhanded compliment about your tablescape OR a joke about not knowing your way around a kitchen.
5. Comment about what the kids are wearing -- questionable on the passive aggressive quality of the comment.
Round 4: Sweet, Sweet Dessert
Finally, you have made it to the end of the meal and you can enjoy that tin of re-gifted cookies and ring-of-strudel your guests brought.
1. Any off-color and potentially offensive remark is made by FIL.
2. "How many glasses of wine is that for you?" Not nearly enough, not nearly enough.
3. "What, no (insert family dessert recipe that you did not make)?"
4. Comment about how much sugar your kids are having.
5. "Is that another new couch?" Or any mentioning of something "new" even if it's not, but the side of judgement is there.
Bonus Round: Presents
And you thought you were out of the woods. Not just yet, let the weird times continue with presents.
1. FIL acts surprised that he got a calendar, black socks, a blue sweater -- as he does every year.
2. You get pajamas of any kind from the in-laws.
3. Comment about how late the kids are staying up.
4. Discussion about the 2nd amendment occurs (Social!)
5. MIL asks if you are getting enough sleep? You look tired.