The holidays are a joyful time to celebrate loved ones and family traditions. To give thanks for all of our blessings and good fortune, right? Sure. But it’s also a time of family bickering, passive-aggressive comments, colossal fuck-ups, social faux pas, and domestic disasters.
My husband and I have hosted holiday dinners for the past sixteen years, and we’ve experienced all of these things firsthand. To stay sane during these annual “celebrations,” we have developed our own coping strategy. We call it the Dysfunctional Family Drinking Game. It is a secret game that only the two of us play, and it is designed to make us laugh at the foibles and follies during Thanksgiving and any holiday gathering. Wanna know how to play?
Rules of the Dysfunctional Family Drinking Game:
Start out by pouring each player a stiff drink. We like Vodka tonics with a twist of lime. (Yes, the capital V and lower-case t imply the proper proportions.) Make sure to have a bottle of something-over-80-proof ready with shot glasses nearby. You’ll need them later. (If you don’t drink, you can substitute alcohol with anything delicious like chocolate or bacon.)
Any time one of the following happens, you have to follow the corresponding rule:
- Backhanded Compliment: Your family, you take a sip.
- Late Arrival: Your family, you do a shot.
- Food Faux Pas: Your family, your partner takes a sip.
- Social Faux Pas: Your family, you take a sip.
- Kid Chaos: Social! You both take a sip.
- Blatant Criticism: Count up the steps between you and the family member in the family tree. Everyone takes that number of sips.
- Bodily Functions: Your family, you get to make up a new rule for the night.
- Spilt Drink: Whoever spilt it, shoots it.
Based on past experience, here’s my prediction for how this game will proceed in our house this year. Hypothetically speaking, of course. (All names/relationships have been changed to protect the innocent … and the guilty.)
Round One: The Guests’ Arrival
- Upon greeting me, my mother will tell me how great I look with a few more pounds on my frame. How nice of her to notice that I’ve put on a little weight. [Backhanded Compliment: one sip for me]
- My husband’s distant uncle will make an uncomfortable sexual innuendo to me about how I keep getting better and better. (And then he will wink.) [Social Faux Pas: one sip for my husband. And one for me too because that’s just weird.]
- My brother will bring some slightly stale donuts (perhaps rejects from his Magic the Gathering gaming group?) for dessert. [Food Faux Pas: one sip for my husband]
- My husband’s father will note that we still haven’t fixed the back door. “And it’s been three years!” [Blatant Criticism: one sip for my husband and two for me for good measure]
- My cousin will bring her obviously sick and feverish daughter to the festivities. Even worse, she’ll try to pass her daughter’s green mucus off as allergies. [Social Faux Pas: one sip for me]
Round One Score:
My husband: three sips
Me: five sips
This equals approximately one entire beverage each because my husband takes bigger sips than I do. Even though I’m smaller than he is, we’ll be about even at this point—both holding steady and just the littlest bit buzzed.
Round Two: The Holiday Meal
- My mother-in-law will comment on how surprised she is that the turkey is cooked so evenly despite how dirty the oven is. [Backhanded Compliment: one sip for my husband]
- My husband’s cousin will show up half-way through the meal mumbling something about traffic. From the other side of town. [Late Arrival: one shot for my husband]
- My sister, who doesn’t have kids or work with kids or know anything about kids, will give me advice on how to discipline my children. [Multiple Infractions: We both just finish off our drink and pour a new one.]
- My son will pick up a dinner roll, sniff it, lick it, and then put it back in the bread basket. [Double Whammy! Food Faux Pas and Kid Chaos: Social! two sips for both of us]
- My daughter will secretly feed her turkey to the dog. [Kid Chaos: Social! one sip for each of us]
- My grandma will say, “What IS this? I’ve NEVER had cranberry sauce like this before!” And not in a good way. [Blatant Criticism: three sips for my husband and one sip for me]
- I will burn the crispy leeks, and they will never make it to the pea dish. [To hell with it—one shot for me]
- My mother and brother will get in an argument about something completely ridiculous. [Social Faux Pas: one sip for me]
- My grandma will rip one during dessert. [Bodily Function: I make up a new rule: If your family member leaves before dishes get started, you have to make the next round of drinks.]
Round Two Score:
My husband: ~three drinks
Me: ~three drinks
(Good thing we won’t need to drive anywhere.)
Round Three: The Aftermath
- After eating the kids’ seasonal artwork and too much turkey meat, the dog will puke behind the couch. Bonus points for holiday-themed puke? [Bodily Functions: one sip for each of us]
- I will spill wine on the white carpet. Red wine, of course. [Spilt Drink: one shot for me]
- My sister and brother will bail right after dessert and conveniently just before dishes. [New Rule Enforcement: I make the next round of drinks.]
- My mother-in-law will pack up all of the white meat to take home with her while she thinks no one is looking. [Food Faux Pas: one sip for my husband]
- My husband’s uncle will take the wine he gave me as a hostess gift when he leaves. [Social Faux Pax: We will both just finish the rest of the open wine after the guests leave.]
Round Three Score: Does it really matter at this point? Game OVER! We will both win (considerably inebriated) and celebrate the holiday to the fullest!
I highly recommend you try this game at your next family gathering. If the rules are too complicated, then just take a drink any time an infraction occurs. It might prevent you from saying something you’ll later regret.
Warning: You may very well get drunk while playing. So be responsible and don’t drive or use any incendiary devices. Happy Holidays!
Photo Credit: sad444 / 123RF Stock Photo