No-drama holidays: Avoid emotional traps with your family

Nov. 23, 2010 at 10:44 AM ET

Thanksgiving checklist:

Defrosting turkey? Check.

Got the nice tablecloth out? Check.

Mentally prepared yourself for the psychological minefield that is your family Thanksgiving? Uh-oh... 

We love our families. We're thankful for them. But boy, do they know how to push our buttons. And even though we have kids of our own now, all it takes it one pointed comment from a relative to spark a full-on regression to age 13. Psychiatrist Gail Saltz visited TODAY recently to offer some advice on keeping your sanity during the holidays. Her top tips:

-Prepare some cool one-liners.

"You know your sister is coming and she's going to say, Gee you look like you gained a little weight this year,' Dr. Saltz told TODAY's Tamron Hall. "Come up with some lines that you can have that don't strike back, are not attacking, but where you set a limit. 'You know what, I don't really want to talk about that right now, but let's set the table.'

(This is akin to the "pass the bean dip" line of defense, which goes like this: Relative makes rude/unsolicited/inappropriate comment about your child-raising practices; you smile and say "Hmmm, that's interesting. Please pass the bean dip.")

-Don't take on too much. (Even if you're the only one who does it "right" -- delegate and let go of perfection.)

-Don't put yourself last -- get enough sleep and eat healthy when you can.

-Hotel reservations! Encourage would-be houseguests to make them. 

-Don't idealize past holidays. As Tamron Hall put it, "Think Chevy Chase holidays, not the Waltons."

What are your best family holiday survival tips? Share in the comments!