The holiday season can bring out the best and worst of us, especially when it comes to family gatherings. If you're dreading spending another Christmas with your obnoxious in-laws and other assorted relatives, here are some tips on coping with difficult family members around the holidays, from Mark Bryan, author of Codes of Love: How to Rethink Your Family and Remake Your Life:


Catch up on family news before the holidays, so you're better prepared to discuss what's going on in the lives of other guests.

Stay in a hotel or with a friend so you can retreat to a safe harbor.

Don't expect a lot and try not to dredge up the past. Focus on the present.

Have a phone friend standing by so you can vent when meddling family members begin to overwhelm you.

Don't be a slacker. Make a sincere effort to pitch in and help at clean-up time.

Don't force deep conversations or pry for information.

Let your in-laws take care of you, if they want to.

If you have a newborn, make family members work around your schedule.

Don't let in-laws walk all over you -- you are not a doormat.