Consider (gasp!) staying away from the toxic family holiday. There may be a point at which you need to say "enough is enough" to the family holiday gathering, according to Bustle. "Is dutifully heading home for ritualistic carving of turkey, followed by cranberry sauce and nine hours of insults about how you're not doing as well as your brother, worth it?" Moss asked.
You can even consider a decision to boycott the family gathering as an act of love, according to Jezebel. "Sometimes it's just healthier and more loving to let everyone have their space, until a better time comes for sharing one space."
Set boundaries ahead of time. Decide ahead of time just how much time with toxic relatives at the holidays you can bear. Is the thought of a certain relative being at Christmas dinner a deal breaker? Are there other family folks you can tolerate in a group setting as long as you're not in their company one on one? Can you stay three hours, or is one the limit? Should you rent a car in case you need a quick getaway? It's crucial to answer these questions before, not during, a family gathering, according to Oprah.
Get the criticism out of the way ahead of time. If fault-finding is as common at holiday brunch as the breakfast casserole, see if you can't have a heart-to-heart ahead of time, recommended Cheryl Dellasega, author of "Forced to Be Family: A Guide for Living with Sinister Sisters, Drama Mamas, and Infuriating In-Laws."
You might explain it like this, "I'm not feeling that good about the holidays this year and it seems like we've gotten into this routine where every time I come home, we fall back into the parent-child syndrome and you're kind of looking at the things that I'm not doing. Maybe this year you could focus on what I am doing or just not even focus on me at all, because it's really a time when I'm wanting to be with people who love me and wanting to be in a nurturing, positive environment."
Let criticism slide. And if despite all your planning the criticism happens right at the table while the rest of the family is digging into seconds? Clinical psychologist Roni Cohen-Sandler recommended this tactic to Jezebel: "Laugh it off, 'Yeah, that's me!' and then let the comment slide off you as if you're Teflon-coated. Since this probably isn't the first (or last) time you've heard particular criticisms from particular relatives, remember that the comment says more about them than about you."
Douse the toxic behavior. Leadership coach Alicia Bassuk calls certain types of belligerent toxic relatives the "toxically insurgent" and noted that their typical toxic trademarks include condescension, judgmental, abusive or inappropriate remarks, embarrassing others or hijacking credit to turn attention back to themselves. She noted that such toxic people's remarks fall flat when others don't participate. "Fire cannot burn without oxygen, so don't give them any," she wrote for Oprah. "Your reactions and rebuttals are the air this type needs to sustain their flames. Completely refuse to respond to or accommodate them in any way, including isolating them from others whenever possible, unless and until they can conduct themselves with civil consideration. This is like putting a jar over a candle. Poof."
The very best part of defusing toxic relatives during the holidays: Your tactics can carry over to the rest of the year, Bassuk said. "Do not let toxic people infect your demeanor, morale or self-esteem," she said. "With a little know-how, you can boost your psychic immunity against them."