1. Lower expectations.You’re better off anticipating that things will not go well, than anticipating they will be all love and kisses. Then if the event ends without the spilling of blood, you can declare it can be declared the best family get together ever.
2. Invite someone from outside of the family to attend, preferably a minister. This keeps the less inhibited family members from acting out and keeps the men from telling off-color stories.
3. Limit alcohol. In fact, if possible, don't serve any at all. It serves no good purpose in a family setting. If you do serve it, don’t buy much and conveniently run out of it.
4. Don’t discuss family business or finances with a particular family member at family gatherings. Everyone will want to know the details and why they are not involved in them.
5. Avoid trying to resolve previous conflicts or even any scores. The place and time are wrong and it never works.
6. Arrive late. Leave early.
7. The chef is the sheriff. The chef needs to dictate what is appropriate at what time and feel free to be a firm peacemaker.
8. Declare the dinner table a politics free zone.