With the holidays come uncomfortable encounters, conversations and situations. From your uncle spilling red wine on your brand new couch to your date getting a little friendly with the eggnog, things can go from good to bad to worse in an instant. Instead of fretting over mishaps and missteps, navigate the holidays with grace and, of course, a sense of humor. We looked to some of our favorite local entertainers, gift givers and laughter-inducing folks around town to help us navigate potential awkward scenarios. Take a page from their playbooks, and handle uncomfortable situations with ease.
Uncomfortable situation: Your uncle spills red wine on your beautiful cream couch.
“No one feels worse about this than Uncle Stanley,” says Kay West, professional writer and lover of entertaining. “As the hostess, you first need to ease his embarrassment and make light of the situation. As the couch owner, immediate practical action is required. With a clean cotton towel or paper towels, gently blot at the wine. Do not rub! Next, pour club soda over the area, then dump a load of salt — not your fancy pink Himalayan or charcoal smoked sea salt. On top of that, allow to set until your guests leave, and get Uncle Stanley another glass of wine, preferably white. After the party and before going to bed, vacuum the salt up, repeat the process with more soda and salt. In the morning, vacuum again and if the cover is removable, get it to your dry cleaner. If not, flip the cushion (this will only work once). With all accidents and unfortunate decisions, hindsight is 20/20. In the future, match your wine to your furniture when you entertain.”
Uncomfortable situation: You are complaining about the mushy cauliflower casserole — to the maker of the mushy cauliflower casserole.
Ad Hudler’s humor and experience in hospitality makes him adept at navigating the awkward. This particular situation was a first-hand learning experience for Ad. “That’s mine,” the casserole maker told Ad. “Yours?” he asked. “I made it,” she responded. “OH!,” Ad answered. “Oh, um, well. I am going to take this very awkward situation and learn from it. And now, I am going to melt away in shame.”
Uncomfortable situation: Your date spent a little too much time with the eggnog.
“You look across the room and realize your holiday date has been spending too much time with the punch bowl of eggnog instead of you. He’s clearly wasted as he’s dubstepping to classical music, using the F-bomb as a noun, adjective, verb, and now it’s the dogs name … and last but not least, you find him coming out of the bathroom with a shower cap on and the cigar he lit up went into flames not realizing he was smoking an unfiltered Tampax. My best advice to enjoy the evening is to hike up your skirt a few inches and ask him to join you in the car. Once you get him nice and comfy in the back seat, gently shut the door and walk around to the driver side. Hand the Uber driver a great tip and send your date an air kiss! Send him on his merry way and enjoy the rest of the party!”
Uncomfortable situation: According to your mother-in-law, you are serving the wrong wine with your meal.
“Of course no one wants to offend their mother-in-law, and I’m sure a deep, heavy breath and internal eye-roll is required after such a comment,” Amos Gott of Amos Events tells us. “Simply ask her what wine she prefers with this course of the meal and try to provide her with that bottle. And if you want to stroke her ego a little, ask her if she could provide you with a wine tutorial sometime so you could better anticipate her preferred wine choice[s].”
Uncomfortable situation: Your old friend brings the carrot sticks.
“You have spent weeks (maybe months) planning your holiday party spread. Synchronized down to the salted coconut macaroons, brie with figs, Gougeres and Tangerine Pisco Sours,” Edible Nashville editor Jill Melton says, setting the scene. “An hour into the party, an old friend flies in, and (very proudly) plunks down a Tupperware container of Ranch dip with broccoli and carrot sticks. It is so thoughtful and nice, yet … yet … like an old pair of Easy Spirits with your cool LUCKY jeans.”
How to handle? “You thank her profusely and whisk it into the kitchen or family room as you want to spread out the food so folks have access to it everywhere,” Jill says. “Or, by the end of the evening, you’re so exhausted and well into your fifth glass of wine, that you eat it with gusto and say it’s always been your favorite!”
Uncomfortable situation: Someone shows up wearing the same dress as you.
Libby Callaway, fashion editor, journalist, creative consultant, personal style crush and founder of The Callaway, is our go-to gal for fashion advice. When posed with the situation of meeting a duplicate dresser, she says, “If I showed up at a holiday party in the same dress as someone else whom I didn’t know, I’d embrace it as a chance to make a new friend — one who obviously has amazing taste. Ha! Right off the bat, I’d introduce myself and, if I could tell she was feeling awkward about having a party twin, would try to make light of the situation by saying something like, ‘Well, the rest of these clowns must not have heard about the dress code. We look marvelous, don’t you think?'”
Uncomfortable situation: Your little cousin won’t put down his iPad.
One thing to keep in mind is that StyleBlueprint doesn’t exactly recommend following all of the advice given today. But with that disclosure out of the way, we turn to Ben and Morey of “The Ben and Morey Show.” Ben, one half of the comedy duo, says, “Instill in him a love of reading by introducing him to Playboy. Slip him his first beer. The iPad is now less of a distraction.”
Uncomfortable situation: Your left-wing uncle and right-wing sister begin to battle it out.
“Steer the conversation towards religion, so as to distract from the politics,” says Morey, the other half of the above-mentioned duo. “Or go help your little cousin with his iPad.”
Uncomfortable situation: You see a guest moving your strategically placed name cards around.
“I feel like transparency and kindness are the best way to approach most any awkward situation,” Angie Cook of Hester & Cook tells us. “If it was a friend, I would call them out jokingly and move the place cards right back. If it is someone who is new to my home, I would just let it go. It is not worth creating an uncomfortable situation — it’s only dinner after all!”
Uncomfortable situation: Your daughter brings her gluten-free, vegan friend to dinner with no heads up to the chef.
“My North 40 duo partner has been a vegan for over 20 years, so we constantly got into those types of situations as we traveled all over the United States,” says Heather Looney of Castle Homes. “As a cook and former caterer from Louisiana who lived in California for a stint, I became aware of eating preferences and the need for options early on, so I am always prepared not only with alternative food options but a welcoming and tasty option for my friends who consume no food product that has parents.”
Uncomfortable situation: Your brother asks you for money. Again.
Ad Hudler encourages you to respond with, “How convenient. And can you please help me as well? I need a new kidney … sign here!”
Uncomfortable situation: Your great aunt spells your name wrong on a monogrammed towel. Again.
“Why point out the mistake and make my aunt feel bad?” Susannah Scott-Barnes of AshBlue wonders. “The spirit behind the gift is what it’s all about anyway. But perhaps this year when I thank her, I would use a beautiful card with my name printed on it!”
Well wishes to you as you embark on the holiday season and become the master of uncomfortable situations! Happy holidays!!