THE BLOG
11/24/2014 07:36 pm ET Updated Jan 24, 2015

Five Intimidating Family Members at Thanksgiving Dinner (And How to Handle Them)

Ryan McVay via Getty Images

Thanksgiving is a time for gratitude, overeating, and laying the foundation for the family feuds that will carry you through the rest of the holiday season and into the new year. Whether you're hosting Thanksgiving on your home turf or crossing enemy lines at your in-laws' feast, you're guaranteed to run into at least one of the following five threatening family members. Use this guide to handle these characters without resorting to cryptic Facebook posts that leave innocent relatives wondering if you were talking about them.

1. The Little Jerk Who Makes Unpleasant Observations About You

Description: The Little Jerk is a young niece, nephew, or cousin who proudly announces things like, "You have wrinkles just like my teacher!" or "YOU ALREADY HAD SECONDS!"

How to handle him: Your first instinct might be to respond with, "Now that's not very nice, Timmy," or get his parents involved, but that's exactly what the little jerk wants. Don't let him see you sweat. You need to beat him at his own game. Say something like, "Have you gotten shorter? I think you're Benjamin Buttoning back into a baby," or "Was that your toy I stepped on when I walked in? Guess I owe ya one, kid."

2. The Relative Who Still Treats You Like You're In Fifth Grade

Description: This person is usually at least five years older than you and was forced into babysitting you against his or her will at some point. No matter how old you get, he or she will forever treat you like the baby of the family even when you're well past the legal drinking age.

How to handle them: Stand your ground. Don't let their shock over your Instagrammed cocktail or your latest breakup make you feel like you're an irresponsible mess (even if you kind of are one). Back in the day, your relative made bad decisions too; you just couldn't call them out for being hungover at Thanksgiving in 1998 because you were 10 years old and ignorant to the evils of Black Wednesday.

3. The Family Member Who's Putting You To Work

Description: It's tough for families to get together, so when they do, there's usually at least one person who wants to capitalize on the resources at their disposal. For instance, if you're an editor, Cousin Jared will coincidentally have brought his manuscript for you to review after the meal "if you have time." If you're tech savvy, the host has a computer problem you might be able to help her with "since you're there."

How to handle them: Do whatever it is they want you to do because they're family, and you don't see them enough. (But if helping them means missing out on pie, leave them high and dry.)

4. The Wealthy Relative Who Finds Your Humble, Middle-Class Existence Charming

Description: "All I'm saying is, the room description specifically mentioned silk sheets, and I can tell satin when I feel it." The wealthy relative always has a story about a tropical vacation that was ruined because of linens. In attempt to relate, you respond with something like, "I've had a hole in my sheet for about three months. It started small, but it's about the size of cantaloupe now. I think I can still get another year out of it." "How economical! Tell me more about your thrifting."

How to handle them: Try to avoid them as much as possible. He or she will invariably mention the number of figures in his or her salary, and it will make you want to give up on everything.

5. The Host Who Offered Leftovers But Really Doesn't Want to Give Them

Description: After twisting your arm into taking a plate of food home because there's so much, you find yourself holding a paper plate with a scrap of turkey, a watery portion of mashed potatoes, and no pumpkin pie whatsoever. When the host asks, "Is that enough, or did you want more?" it sounds like a dare.

How to handle them: Demand your proper share of leftovers. Do not -- I repeat -- do not let a relative dole out leftovers on your behalf. You should be present at his or her side during distribution. Most importantly, beware leftover favoritism. Hosts always take care of their immediate family first.