You know the embarrassing person from the holiday party that causes high drama or makes for great gossip after the fact? Don’t be that person. In fact, your holidays will be happier if you get ready to shine, rather than embrace regret.

Make It Hard to Get to the Bar 

When you’ve had too much to drink, you’re primed to behave with less physical, verbal, and emotional control. You’re more likely to trip and break an expensive vase, spill on your boss, slur your words and say something completely inappropriate, or relive your college years boisterously.

First, make sure you’ve eaten, before you have a single drink, offsetting the short-term effects of the alcohol. Second, distance yourself from the bar to make it harder to go back for a second, third, and fourth drink.

True, a glass of wine or cocktail can take the edge off, but you want to be authentically cheerful. Avoid being the topic of discussion on Monday at the office, or the viral video on social media.

Stockpile Your Safe Zone Stories 

Socializing with new people in a holiday setting can be awkward, so you might either say nothing and experience uncomfortable silence, coming off as boring (which you’re not), or share too much about your personal life, for a mortifying TMI moment.

Prepare a few stories in the safe zone that you can bring up any time, personal so you make a connection, and lightly entertaining so you might share a laugh. Icebreaker topics often include travel, local events, pets, children, and movies or TV shows. Have a few in your back pocket, then, you won’t get stuck trying to fill silence and spurt out details of your last doctor’s visit.

Managing Family Matters 

This is a balance of knowing your family dynamics and not repeating old emotional habits, but letting go of the past so you can be with your loved ones in a healthy way.  If you know you don’t get along with a certain family member, interact in a group at the party, when others can offset the situation.

Hone your own coping skills, such as meditating in advance, which can give you perspective and clarity on family relationships. You might step away temporarily, which can help you prevent a stress-inducing reaction in the moment, and give you time to gather your thoughts.

Preparing for the holidays can go beyond gift buying and decorating. You can prepare to show up as the best version of you throughout the holidays for a brighter start to a new year.