It’s that time of year again: snow, colored lights, cheerful songs, lots of food, and general misery. We’ve already passed the gateway drug, Thanksgiving, but there are still several holidays coming up to torture us all. With that in mind, I present the Handy Dandy Guide: Surviving the Holidays, in which we’ll explore some common problems and my solution for not letting them wreck your holiday spirit.

Problem: You hate your in-laws

Your mother-in-law won’t stop criticizing you, your father-in-law thinks your spouse is too good for you, your husband’s racist grandmother won’t stop telling you how pleased she is her grandson married a good (read: blonde) woman, and your sister-in-law is sickeningly fecund and won’t control the brats. We’ve all been there. Remember: these people are your spouse’s family. They share genetics. Which means, by proxy, your spouse is totally responsible for all of their bullshit. Whenever someone pisses you off, simply turn around and take it out on your better half. They’re too busy being pissed off at their mom’s incessant quest for another grandkid to really pay too much attention anyway. Besides, you could be spending the holidays with your family, and we all know that would be worse. You have to pretend to like them.

Problem: There’s an argument during dinner

Everyone has it happen at some point. The conversation is strained but chipper, until that one crazy uncle pops out with something like the Mexican Olympics* joke and the table goes quiet. Within five minutes, someone’s calling someone else a racist and half of the family is revealing why they, too, dislike an entire ethnic group based on something someone like Joe Arpaio** said once. Take a deep breath, you’ll get through this one. The first step is to go fix yourself a drink, because god knows you need it dealing with these assholes. The second is to sit back and not get angry yourself – after all, they taint your spouse’s genetics, not yours. The third is to steadily, quietly feed the argument with well-placed comments (“So tell me, Aunt Maude, what do you think of welfare?”) because this is the closest thing to entertainment you’ll get all night.

Problem: You recently had a death in the family

This is a pretty easy one to deal with, actually. Never mention your loved one and cry at awkward moments. This puts everyone at ease and ensures some good old-fashioned holiday fun, especially if you start to sob during the third round of Christmas Pictionary.

Problem: You need to go shopping on Christmas Eve

First of all, remember that there is absolutely no reason that any store should be out of anything you want on Christmas Eve. Truly, if they say they are, the employees are just lying to spite you. Yell, scream, threaten legal action, demand a manager. Make them call every single store in the tri-county area to find that toy little Bobby has his heart set on. When it turns out to be a five-mile drive away, inform the store clerk how bad traffic is. I mean, these jokers are working on Christmas Eve (how cushy is that, getting out of the Christmas prep!), they haven’t had to drive around in this shit all day.

Secondly, remember that you don’t have to take any shit from other customers. Those procrastinating douchebags are probably unemployed, anyway, and don’t deserve the toy you waited until the last minute to get. After all, they had all this time while you were working. I mean, with record unemployment, you’d think that those who aren’t good enough to work would spend their daylight hours doing something useful like getting their Christmas shopping done, right? It’s not like they need to wait until everything is marked down ten percent, you’ve got that vacation to Miami you’re saving for. The ten dollars will make a difference in your travel fund, and what’s it doing for them? Paying for a meal?

Third, remember that all the good parking spots are at the front of the mall, where the complementary valet parking is. That’s why all the cars are circling there. Join the line, it’ll only be a few minutes.

Problem: You’re trying to lose some weight

We’ve all been there: the mad, last-month rush to lose the ten pounds you swore you’d lose before New Year’s. Unfortunately for you, there’s a huge amount of good food and a general encouragement of binge eating. Fortunately for you, there’s also alcohol. Tis’ the season to be shitfaced, and the bonus of getting staggeringly drunk is the staggeringly drunken vomiting you’ll do. Besides, if you’re drinking, no one can accuse you of bulimia.***

Problem: You’re attending a New Year’s party by yourself

You’re in luck, New Year’s parties are great places to meet people. It’s a good time to remember that age-old adage: when in doubt, drink til you pass out.**** It’s a great idea that won’t result in you being robbed or assaulted, I promise. Make sure you don’t eat anything before the party and go straight for the vodka. Fuck that “glass of water for every drink” bullshit, getting completely wasted is easier if you’re dehydrated. Remember: slurring and falling over? Completely hot. Plus, every woman knows that walking while wearing a short skirt and high heels is easier and more alluring when plastered.

Problem: You’re spending the holidays alone

You’ve just moved, you’re too poor to go home, or all of your family is dead. In that case, party time. Pick yourself up a box of Franzia, a new video game (I hear Skyrim is awesome), and a take-out pizza. You lucky chucklefuck.

This concludes the Handy Dandy Guide: Surviving the Holidays. We hope these tips and tricks help you get through this dark, family-and-forced-joy infested time of year.

*No, I’m not going to tell it. Suffice to say it’s pretty fucking awful and I’m ashamed I even know it.

**Just Google, then be in awe that that man hasn’t been imprisoned yet.

***Although I tried to be really over the top with the ridiculous offensiveness of this suggestion so my sarcasm would be obvious, I still feel compelled to say that this is a terrible idea, no one should actually do it, and if you thought it was a good idea you should probably speak with a medical professional. Also, if you’re drinking til you puke and not eating anything, yes, everyone thinks you have a problem either with alcohol or ED. Sorry, drunkorexics, you’re not fooling people.

****Again, I should think my sarcasm would be obvious, but just in case: please don’t drink til you pass out, especially not if you’re attending a party alone. It’s at the very least a one-way ticket to Hangover Land, and if you’re unlucky you might pass through Robbers’ Town and Sexual Assaultville on the way. No, not a drunk’s fault if they’re assaulted or robbed, but being in at least partial control of your faculties can help you avoid A Situation***** so be wise especially when alone.

*****Either the state of being in a situation, or the jackass from Jersey Shore. You pick. I think sobriety might actually be like Kryptonite to him.