Thanksgiving means food, football, fun, and of course, family. And the dreaded in-laws come with that family. If Marie and Frank Barone seem like a walk in the park compared to your in-laws, read on for ways to survive the holidays with your family and sanity intact.

iStockphoto

1. If you’ll be a guest in your in-laws’ home, bring a gift. This can be anything from your family’s secret-recipe pumpkin pie to the citrus and sage candle your mother-in-law always burns. If you come bearing gifts you’ll start off on a great foot and earn some brownie points for sure.

2. Avoid bringing up sure-to-cause-drama topics. If you know your mother-in-law is as conservative but you’re as liberal as they come, don’t talk politics at the dinner table. If your father-in-law is a diehard Redskins fan but you’ve always supported the Cowboys, it might be wise to leave before the game starts. Your ability to hold your tongue will serve you well.

iStockphoto

3. Set aside time for yourself. Whether your in-laws have invaded your home or you’re invading theirs, make sure you have some quality time to cool off by yourself if need be. If you’re the ones traveling for the holidays, take along a book, your iPad, or even just a pillow for a post-dinner catnap. You’ll be amazed at how much “in-law” time you can handle after you’ve had your “me” time.

4. Participate in family bonding times. Even if you think your in-laws’ Thanksgiving tradition of catching their own turkey for dinner has you craving tofu or you would rather drink hot lava than compete in the annual Smith family Literal Angry Birds Tournament, suck it up and play. You’re much more likely to be an accepted member of the family if you aren’t afraid to act just as ridiculous as they are.

5. Get some exercise. If tensions start running high, go for a little run yourself. Or take a walk. Bust out some pushups in the guest room. Do whatever you need to do to burn off some stress…and some calories.

What are your plans for getting through Thanksgiving with your in-laws?