Thanksgiving is right around the corner, and I don’t know about you, but I always love this time of year. Thanksgiving gives us (specifically, stressed-out college students) the chance to return home and see our families. We get to eat edible food, fall asleep in the comfort of our own beds, and enjoy being in a space that isn’t 90 degrees too hot.

As appealing as it may sound, many students struggle being around their family during the holidays. Many of them haven’t seen their families in a while, so it’s understandable to have difficulty readjusting. At family gatherings, chaos is not a question of if but when. So how can you survive it?

The first thing I like to do when I’m feeling overwhelmed at a family gathering is to excuse myself and go somewhere where I can be alone, like the bathroom or my room. Family gatherings are loud, and sometimes I just need a few moments of quiet to ground myself. When I’m feeling better, I return to the party. This can be really helpful for people with social anxiety.

Another helpful tip is to have some entertainment on deck. Family gatherings can sometimes last for hours, and that can especially be true on Thanksgiving — everyone will stuff their faces and then pass out on the couch. To avoid being bored out of your mind by a bunch of sleeping relatives, have some board games or cards on hand to get the whole family involved in something fun. My favorite game to play with my family is Rummy 500. If you’re able to get the whole family to play, you’ll have a lot more fun than you expected.

Next, I’m always prepared to talk a ton about school. How are my classes? What clubs did I join? What types of classes do I want to take next semester? It can be exhausting to keep repeating answers, especially if you’re seeing relatives you haven’t seen in a while. But just remember that your family wants to keep up with what you’re doing, and that although it may not seem like it, those questions are a sign that they care about you.

Finally, when the gathering has been going on for long enough, it’s best to act tired and pretend you’re heading to bed, even if you don’t actually intend to. It’s a great way to excuse yourself for the night so you can relax after a night of laughter, conversation, and fun. Just be sure to bid your relatives goodnight, especially if you’re Italian like me (you definitely don’t need an angry Italian calling your mom at 10 p.m. saying they were ignored by you).

Hopefully, these tips will help you survive your Thanksgiving family gathering. Remember to have fun and eat lots of food! It won’t be long before it’s finals season, so enjoy your break while you can!

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