The holiday season can be a joyous time. Filled with love, gathering with your loved ones, sharing meals…and sometimes, unfortunately, having to ward off awkward conversations and invasive questions that really shouldn’t be anyone else’s business. Having to answer invasive questions from family members can make the annual holiday celebrations dreaded events. Some might even consider opting out of the family get togethers all together to avoid having to be constantly grilled on topics that are uncomfortable or private in nature. However, you don’t have to let your family’s invasive inquisitions deter you from spending the holidays together. Instead, here are five helpful tips to consider to help you get through those invasive questions, and maybe even put them to rest once and for all.

Come Prepared with a Plan

Since it’s your family you’re going to be dealing with, you probably already have a good idea of who will be the ones to get nosey and ask you invasive questions. In fact, they may be the ones who seemingly do it every year. So, this time, come prepared. Think back to the questions you’ve been asked before and come up with plausible responses to those questions. That way, you won’t be stumbling for answers and you’ll be prepared instead of most likely getting defensive towards your family members. If it’s not a question you feel inclined to answer, then think of a witty response that will end that line of questioning.

Recruit Yourself an Ally

You’re probably not the only one in the family facing invasive questions from other family members during the holidays. So, it’s always a good idea to enlist the help of someone to help thwart or retort those questions. Whether it’s a sibling, a cousin, or even a partner you’ve brought along, make sure they know what’s going on. That way you can rely on one another for support and have someone to defend you if the questions are getting to be too much.

Answer the Questions Directly…within Reason

That doesn’t mean you have to give everything away when answering a question. It simply means you can give direct but vague responses that deflect from the topic at hand. This tactic will help shift the focus off of those invasive questions you’re reluctant to answer but will give the family members doing the asking some satisfaction that you’re engaging and conversing with them.

Don’t be Afraid of Deflection

It’s okay to tell your family members that you’re just not comfortable with answering a specific question. Whether it’s when are you planning on finally getting married to are you ever going to have children, sometimes certain questions just shouldn’t be open for discussion, especially if they hit a nerve or trigger negative emotions. So, don’t be afraid of deflecting from the question or outright refusing to answer. And if you need to, get up and walk away. The family member will then surely get the hint not to keep prying into your personal life.

Don’t Tolerate Offensive Remarks

Not every family member you have is going to be polite and well-behaved. Some can be outright rude and not care about offensive remarks or highly invasive questions. Don’t be afraid to stand your ground and stand up for your principles if you think a question or comment is out of line. Chances are, you won’t be the only one thinking the same thing. This is especially the case if you find a personal question too invasive. It’s okay to defend yourself and put your foot down, letting that family member know that their remarks won’t be tolerated.

Family gatherings don’t have to be stressful and cause anxiety just because you dread having to answer invasive questions. But with a bit of preparation and a sense of self-worth, you’ll be able to stand up to your family and hopefully finally put an end to those questions you’d rather not answer, alleviating your stress and making the holidays much more enjoyable.