Surviving Your In-Laws Over The Holidays


Love them or not, but even the best in-law can become a major pain in the candied yam during the holiday season. As we ramp up for the chaos and stress, here are a few tips to maintain your sanity.

Prep Like A Hurricane Is Coming

Before your in-laws arrive, go to Costco and stock up on a case of wine. Take said case of wine home and chill it. Grab a bottle opener and open bottle. Pour generous glass. Take a drink. You’re going to need it!

That Special Something

What is that one thing that your in-laws always eat or drink? Maybe it’s a special type of wine or a certain brand of cereal. My mother-in-law drinks an insane amount of black coffee, so since this is her ‘thing’ that makes her feel like home, I make sure to have lots of coffee on hand. You may not have the time or energy to cater to their every need, but if you have that one special thing, you can show that you care and say that you made the effort.

Surviving Your In-Laws Over The Holidays

Special Day (without you!)

Want them to know how special they are? Plan a special afternoon for them that doesn’t include you. Really talk it up! This works best if they’re from out of town because then you can send them to do the touristy stuff. Send them on a long boat ride to see the sites or a carriage ride with a walking tour afterward. If they’re local, send them golfing, for mani/pedis, or to a movie with their grandchildren. You plan and pay for it, so they can’t say no, but then you get an afternoon or maybe a whole day to yourself while maintaining the appearance of perfect daughter-in-law!

Give Them Something To Do

Like toddlers, in-laws must be kept busy to stay out of trouble. Give them a project. I plan to give my mother-in-law a decorating project. She can spend time with her grandchildren, it will take her a long time to do it, and she can feel part of the festivities while I get other stuff done. Maybe you can ask your in-laws to make that special family dish or ask your handy father-in-law to fix a small thing in your home. Keep them occupied, keep your sanity.

Drink Another Glass Of Wine

Use Your Children

They may hate you, but your in-laws almost certainly love their grandchildren. Emphasize how much the children remind you of them and set up bonding time, including art projects, sporting activities, or reading time together. Now you have your in-laws and your children occupied! Win/Win!

Rise Above

Your mother-in-law may think that you’re not good enough for her son. She may make little digs at you, but try not to respond. She is, after all, your children’s grandmother and your partner’s mother and you aren’t going to win this battle. Your partner almost certainly will side with his mother, so as long as you paste a sweet smile on your face, you will look the better for it in the end. If she’s a toxic mother-in-law, she wants you to negatively respond, after all, because then she can say to her son, “see how she treats me?!” You don’t want that. Plaster a smile on your face like a good southern lady and rise above, so that she has nothing to point to as mistreatment.

Drink Rest Of Bottle and Hang In There

The holidays can be stressful, especially when you add in sometimes toxic family dynamics, so hang in there and breathe….it will all be over soon!

Disclaimer: This post is, of course, (mostly) tongue-in-cheek and I recognize that many of us have wonderful in-laws who don’t lead us to imbibe bottles of wine. And Cathy, you’re a lovely mother-in-law and I’m so excited that you’re coming to visit over Thanksgiving. I have your favorite coffee and I have planned a special fun activity for you and the kids! 🙂