Ah, the holidays… when many of us are coerced into family road trips, to – yep, you guessed it – spend even more time with your family. We’re not just talking mom, dad, and siblings here; we mean your extended family – go on, throw your racist grandparents, nosey aunts, sexist uncles, and arrogant cousins into the mix.

We’re willing to bet that you’d much rather be spending your Chinese New Year holidays chilling on a beach in Bali, alone. Maybe Bali isn’t an option this year, because it’s Chinese New Year, and love ‘em or hate ‘em, it’s time that you spend with your family. Here’s the thing, though – no matter how much you love your family, it can still get to boiling point.

After all, there’s only so many times you can take the, “So, when are you getting married?” question. Fear not – we’ve come up with several survival tips, so you can have a stress-free CNY.

Invest in a Good Pair of Headphones

We all know how difficult long drives with your family can be. This year, you might have to carpool with your sister and her family. Your five-year-old niece is obsessed with My Little Pony, and if you have to hear the theme-song one more time, you’ll scream.

A good pair of headphones or earphones can change your entire journey – they are amazing at blocking out the My Little Pony theme song. Here are some of the best cheap earphones in Malaysia; they’ll save your life this Chinese New Year.

Bring Your Own Bottle

Studies have shown* that the more alcohol you consume, the more tahan-able your family becomes. Maybe your family members aren’t too fond of alcohol, or they only consume cheap wine that’s guaranteed to give you a headache the next day.

Here’s where you come in – bring a bottle of your favourite drink to make things more bearable. You won’t have to rely on your relatives, and be forced to drink their shitty wine. If your drink of choice isn’t popular, even better. That means you won’t have to share!

*not really, sorry.

Keep Your Phone Fully Charged

Your phone is your lifeline to the outside world. With your phone in your hand, you’ll be able to live-tweet your entire reunion dinner, updating your followers on family drama in real-time. You can also check in with your friends to make sure that they’re all struggling as much as you are.

Plus, if things get too intense and you’ve been drinking, open up the Uber app so you can get the hell out of there!

If you plan on doing all these things – and more (selfies with your favourite cousins and adorable nieces and nephews, or putting Snapchat filters on your grandfather), you’re going to need a good and reliable power bank. Save yourself the trouble of having to bring your phone charger with you, and then having to locate a plug point by getting yourself one.

With your phone fully-charged, you’ll be able to make a break for it and get out of there in no time.

Focus on Your Comfort

Chinese New Year means reunions, and reunions mean travelling. The most popular way to do this is to look for the cheapest mode of transport possible – I mean, you’re saving money, even if you’re compromising on comfort and leg-space, right? And sure, extra money is always good.

Even if you’re travelling home this year on the most uncomfortable AirAsia flight, or the strangest-smelling bus, there are ways to upgrade yourself. Trust us, you don’t have to fly first-class for a first-class experience.

To keep yourself feeling less shit and more lit (especially when you think about what you’ll have to deal with when you arrive at your destination), consider getting a fancy thermos, a hydrating face mask, and a memory-foam neck pillow.

Take a Walk

If things get too intense, it’s always a good idea to remove yourself from the situation until everyone calms down. If you’ve listened to us and kept your phone powered up and ready to go, you’re all set. All you need is a good pair of walking shoes (like this pair of Nike Air Huaraches) – and they don’t have to be ugly.

Show your cousins that you’re balling (on a budget, yes, we know) with a pair of these. If those aren’t your cup of tea, what about a pair of Vans? They’re nice enough to wear with a Chinese New Year outfit, without seeming like you’ve just arrived from the gym. The options are endless; the (sneaker) world is your oyster.

Master the Art of Conversation

It’s no secret that family reunions require more tolerance than the usual hangout. Your aunts and uncles are complaining about how expensive everything is these days, your grandparents are guilt-tripping you about how you never visit them (despite the fact that they live three states away from you, and you call them every weekend), and your least-favourite cousin is showing off her massive engagement ring again.

One way to make it more bearable is to join in on the conversation. Pick up a good book to read, or do some Googling, and find out about some of your family members’ hobbies and interests. That way, you’ll be able to chat with them about safe topics, carefully avoiding the ever-awkward, “Eh, got girlfriend yet, ah?” question.

Learn How to Create a Diversion

Try as you might, there will be conversations that you can’t avoid. For example, what are you going to do when your least-favorite uncle drunkenly corners you and starts asking why you decided to drop out of university to pursue your passion for live-streaming your attempts at Call of Duty?

Sure, it might not necessarily be true, but who knows what your parents have told him?! There’s no one there to save you – you’re going to have to save yourself. A good way to opt out of a conversation that you don’t want to be in is to create a diversion.

Pull out some tennis balls, and start juggling. Put your dance lessons to good use – give them a little preview of your routine. Show them your best fidget-spinner tricks. Play Despacito on the guitar; why else did you take those lessons last year? All parts of the former conversation will be forgotten.

Plan Activities to Distract People

People can’t fight when they’re in the middle of a paintball shootout – it takes up too much effort, and gives away your hiding spot. When things get a little difficult, and your extended family has spent too much time together, step in with a fun little activity, and all with be forgiven.

Book a futsal court for your family’s personal use, and let them work off all that steam. If they can’t play team sports because they really do hate each other, let them sort it out between themselves during a laser-tag session. You could even try reverse-psychology, by taking them on an escape room adventure and forcing them to use teamwork.

Have Enough Snacks for Everyone

Chinese New Year is one of those times where you get a free pass to snack as much as you want. Celebrating CNY in Malaysia is even better, because of our wide and multicultural array of snacks. There’s something to satisfy every craving – sweet, savoury, crispy, chewy, whatever you want.

Having a wide selection of snacks over the Chinese New Year period is crucial, because if your relatives are busy snacking themselves silly, there’s no way they’ll be able to ask you questions about your personal life. If they’re not snacking, and they’re hell-bent on asking you why they haven’t received an invitation to your upcoming wedding, simply deflect with, “Have you tried the pineapple tarts yet? They’re delicious!”, and shove one into their mouth.

Here’s a list of Chinese New Year cookies you can get online. They’re homemade, but you don’t have to tell your family that they weren’t exactly made in your home, right?

Delay Marriage as Long as Possible

If you’re not married, you’re eligible for ang pau. When you’re married, you have to give out ang pau. Let’s be real – which situation sounds better?

Happy Chinese New Year from us at ProductNation. We hope that this year of the dog holds nothing but pawsitivity for you and your family.

More: 21 Chinese New Year Decorations to Usher in the Dog Year 2018