So how to deal with narcissists during the holidays? The best and most simple answer is to fully disengage! I realize I sound repetitive but 'no contact' is always the best answer bar none to dealing with narcissists. They are poisonous no matter the season but most especially in the seasons of cheer and festivity. Whether the narcissist uses the holidays to grandstand or to poop on everyone's parade they are like ants at the picnic. No, they are like wasps at the picnic. Threatening discomfort just by their hovering presence and getting their stings in when you least expect it.
The consistent advice on this blog is that you put many miles between you and the narcissist -- both geographical and emotional miles. Cut off or drastically minimize contact. So if you're wondering about how to deal with narcissists on the holidays you have obviously not taken my advice thus far. And since my advice on the holidays is the same...what more is there for me to say? I'll see what I can come up with.
If you are in a situation where you have no choice -- come on, let's be really honest here with ourselves about whether we have a choice or not. Sometimes we claim to not have a choice when the truth is we are avoiding discomfort by not rocking the boat! -- then my advice to disengage still applies only the disengagement is purely an emotional one.
Do not let yourself get sucked into their reindeer games. Detach emotionally from all the fantasies you've had about finally having a happy family gathering that includes the narcissist(s). It is fantasy. Pure. Fantasy. Holidays with narcissists are something you just try to get through. In one piece, hopefully. So drop your Happy Family delusions, forget trying to fix anyone, give up thinking that if you sacrifice body and soul the narcissist will appreciate the effort and be nice to you, stop thinking that you can make everyone get along by being 'above it all'. I'm not talking about being 'above it all' when I talk about detachment. I'm talking about being emotionally unavailable. There in body but not in heart. It is the only armor that will help keep you sane and relatively unscathed by the contact. Does this sound like fun? Like the holiday spirit? Obviously not. But holidays with narcissists are never fun. It is a game of survival for you. Focus on survival not festivity because that's as good as it gets. Why, after knowing you are dealing with a narcissist, you would still sign up for this misery is quite beyond me.
Do not allow the narcissist (or his side-kicks) to run you, make you into a servant, or use you as a primary source of supply during the holiday. Be willing and prepared to leave the moment things turn ugly. That assumes, of course, you're smart enough at this point to not actually be the host to family gatherings. Hopefully you know enough going into this holiday season to realize that putting on gala holiday events in your own home is just begging for some narcissist to kick you in the teeth. Hosting holidays with narcissists is an invitation they find irresistible to shove your generosity, your thoughtfulness, and your hours of labor right up your ass. Don't be a sap. Don't set yourself up as such an easy target. Either go to the narcissist's home, another family member's home or a restaurant. Someplace where you can grab your kids and get the hell out of there the moment you see the fangs flashing.
I've said my piece on holidays with narcissists. I'm sure the commenters will have plenty to say on this that I've haven't. Have at it!