After the last year’s COVID holiday wipeout, family get-togethers will be coming back strong this year. For those with hearing issues, that might mean once again—or for the first time—dealing with the challenge of a loud, crowded holiday. This can make family fun a challenge.

There are a few steps that might make the day easier.

Remember that old real estate cliché: location, location, location. Where you plant yourself in a room—or at the table—can be crucial. Try to avoid being in the center of things; shoot for the end of the table. That will cut down on the amount of sound you’re dealing with on either side, which can be disorientating and overwhelm your hearing aid (if you use one).

The same goes for the football game in the living room. Stay away from the TV—more specifically, its speakers—and aim for the edges of the gathering.

Another good strategy is taking a break from the hubbub. Taking a walk around the block right before or after dinner will clear your head and give your ears a break, which they will appreciate. If need be, just find a quiet room and have some downtime.

Also, there’s no shame in letting the people gathering with you know that hearing is an issue for you. Especially if you’re new to hearing aids and, due to COVID, folks from far away don’t know this, then let clue them in that they might have to speak a little slower and maybe away from the crowd. This will make things easier for everyone—especially you.