THE ANG PAO FREELOADER
She has four children and she makes sure that none of them (and her maid) miss a single ang pao opportunity. You give her the benefit of the doubt – until you realise that she’s been slyly giving token $4 sums in her ang paos compared to the $8 everyone’s been giving her kids.
What to do: Either adjust your ang pao for her family accordingly (put a rubber band around this pile), or draw on your inner zen. After all, there’s no reason for the kids to be shortchanged on her account, right?
THE BUAY PAISEH COUSIN
He brazenly loads up on the best ingredients at all family dinners. There’s little consideration about whether everyone else has had a fair share, and he’s not shy at all about going “Wah, that bottle of wine looks good. Eh, share lah!”
What to do: When bringing out the good stuff to the reunion table, make sure you proclaim loudly how many pieces each family member should get. Or distribute what you can. But for things like wine meant for private consumption, keep them hidden away.
THE ETERNAL BRAGGART
This aunt somehow always finds a way to casually turn every conversation topic to how amazing and successful her children are. And once she starts, she doesn’t stop, even if it’s clear no one’s paying attention.
What to do: Agree on an escape signal – for instance, clearing the throat twice – with the hubby or your siblings, so that you can rescue one other from the painful boredom. Or pretend you’re thinking of selling insurance part-time, so can you count on your fabulous aunt to lend some support?
To him, you’re not successful if you’re not raking in big bucks as a doctor/lawyer/accountant, driving a big car, and living in a condominium. And he has no qualms about giving you sage advice on how to “correct” your life.
THE NOSY AUNT
She makes it her personal mission to hound everyone with the usual barrage of “when are you getting married”, “when are you getting pregnant”, “when are you having your next child” questions.
What to do: Turn the heat back on her. Before the reunion, mentally prepare a handful of questions that will either keep her occupied, or are awkward enough to her back off. Like, “Oh yeah Auntie, cousin Janice has been at her job quite long right? When is she getting a promotion, ah?”
THE SULLEN PLUS ONES
The spouses, girlfriends and boyfriends who are here mainly to “show face”, but not familiar enough with (or interested in) the rest of the relatives to actually mingle and chat.
What to do: Generally, you can’t go wrong with talking about food or movies. Consider asking if they’ve tried any unusual or really tasty new year goodies. Or if they look to be the café-hopping type, ask if they have any good spots to recommend. If movies seem like their thing, find out what their recent favourites are.
THE TV HOGGER
Every year, this uncle just automatically assumes that he’s the Master of the TV Remote Control. But you can’t stand the tacky variety shows he wants to watch, and you’d really rather watch something else.
What to do: Bring along your stash of family-friendly movies, and a VGA or HDMI cable that will let you project your laptop screen on the TV. You might need to first bribe your kids to wail about how they’d rather watch Harry Potter or Star Wars, before making your entry.