When coming up with the Tis the Season card line and bringing our Gobsmack'd sensibility into the mix, we realized what was missing: legal agreements between friends and family.
Like having a Chimney Exit Strategy. How do you do this? Simple. You create a seasonal safeword. We recommend choosing a safeword that is easy to remember and not commonplace during the season (or you'll be faking apoplexy and popping out to the car every time someone mentions popcorn). Once you have established a safeword (chinchilla, triceratops, etc.), you are golden. And when you hit your emotional limit at that awful holiday party, awkward workplace gathering or forced caroling event, one of members of the pact just has to utter the safeword, and they will be secure in the knowledge they will be rescued immediately.
This can entail a dramatic excuse, "I'm allergic to pistachios and I just ate some fruit cake filled with nuts and my EpiPen is in your car!" Or even an excuse that is obviously contrived and will be found out soon enough, but will allow you to escape in that moment. Perhaps something like, "I just remembered I have to wash my cat. Will you [insert name of fellow Chimney Exit Strategy Pact Member] come with me to help me hold him down while I lather him up? Sorry we cannot dress up like Victorian carolers and walk around your neighborhood with you for the next four hours. Sounds like lots of fun. But like I said, that cat is not going to wash itself."