It’s finally December, and we all know what that means: ‘tis the season to be verbally accosted by your family! At this point in your life, the only reason you show up for family holidays anymore is the homemade food, and the possibility that one of your cool relatives will slip you some Benjamin Franklins (that you will definitely spend on college tuition and not beer.) However, that being said, spending time with your relatives is rough, because they always seem to ask you questions you don’t want to answer. That’s okay — follow this handy guide, and you can make it through the holidays without giving out any serious information about your personal life.

Have a coughing fit

As much as you love the fam, every time someone asks what you’re doing after college you can feel a quarter-life crisis coming on. Don’t give anyone time to induce your feelings of impending doom- instead, be ahead of the game and cough incessantly as soon as anyone approaches you. No one can question your life’s trajectory if they can’t get a word in edgewise. The only thing people will be asking you tonight is if you have bronchitis. (The correct answer is “yes.”)

Interrogate them first

Anytime you’re in the hot seat, unexpectedly turn the tables and return the rapid fire. “Hey Aunt Becky, are you adjusting well to life after 50? Also, why did you and Uncle Tim get divorced again?” Whatever the elephant in the room is, be sure to address it. The more ruthless the better. You know you’ve done the job right when everyone is shocked into silence and you’re left feeling the sweet bliss. Sure, your mom might get mad at you, but you can honestly say, “What? She started it!”

Get it over with all at once

Since you’re unlikely to get away completely unscathed and very likely to hear the same things over and over, it might be best to just get it all out in one go. Try making one big announcement when the whole family is gathered: “Before we begin eating, I would just like to say something. I am single, directionless, completely broke and yes, an art major. No, I don’t expect to ever be employed. Yes, I will probably die alone with 16 cats. Great chat, let’s eat!” Hey, at least you’re up front about it.

Fake your own death

They say that teamwork makes the dream work, and that’s especially true if your dream is to escape your grandma’s relentless barrage of questions, such as but not (unfortunately) not limited to: “Why are you single?” “Why did Jason break up with you?” “Are you aware that your biological clock is ticking? Seriously. Have kids already.” Faking your death is the only rational way out of this situation. Keep in mind that this option is only for pros- it can be tough to pull off. The best method is to pick a sibling or cousin (preferably one also trying to weasel their way out of family togetherness) who can help you out. Then, stage your death, whether it’s “choking” on some Christmas ham or tragically getting “crushed” by a fallen Christmas tree. Your partner in crime can pretend to drive you to the hospital, and you’ll both be free from this holiday nightmare. At worst, you can kill a couple of hours while your family desperately tries to cope with the tragic loss. At best, your parents go along with the charade and you never have to see or speak to your extended relatives again.  

Be overly honest

“Every time you ask me about my future, I break out into a nasty, tri-colored rash. Wanna see?” You’ll nervously look around the room before commenting on the interesting aroma coming from yellow snow. The subject will never come up again.

Happy holidays!