How to survive Christmas with your family

6 Dec

The saying ‘you can choose your friends but you can’t choose your family’ comes to mind with this topic, its certainly true. If your anything like me then your family will probably drive you insane over the Christmas holidays, its not their fault, you love them, they love you, but for some reason at Christmas you feel them getting on your nerves. Mainly its because for a few days you’ll be in and out of each-others pockets (sometimes just a day on top of each other is enough to send you up the wall) old family feuds come up, someone makes a tasteless joke, a family member has contributed too little to the day while another is taking over and becoming too controlling. It really can be a minefield, and by the end of the day you don’t feel blissfully content and relaxed sharing a holiday with your loved ones, but stressed out, tired and experiencing a longing for silence and time shut away from all human beings.

However it doesn’t have to be that way, I’ve found a few simple ways to ensure a nice easy going Christmas where no on ends up wanting to strangle eachother over the dinner table. (Which very nearly was the case one year with me and my brother Aaron)


No ones Christmas is ever going to be perfect, its never going to be like the Christmas adverts on the television with a huge crackling fire, perfectly behaved children and a warm golden glow in the air. Life isn’t like that and Christmas never is, allow for a few things to go wrong. Kids will be over excited, possibly annoying, loud and won’t always listen to your instructions. But its Christmas so lighten up and take them aside without a fuss and explain calmly that you expect them to behave. Adults will become ‘merry’ when the drinks are flowing, they may make a tasteless comment or joke that may even come across wrong, without a malicious intent. Allow for it and take the attention away by making a joke of your own. Just be realistic and don’t let the microscopic negative occurrences effect the overall day, people aren’t perfect so its highly unlikely that any family event will  be.


Good preparation is not only the key for success with anything, but also the key for relaxation over Christmas. If your prepared with the food in, house tidied and everything ready to go, you’ll be a lot calmer and happier, your relatives will be receptive to your positive mood and things will run a lot smoother with everyone nice and content when interacting with each other. Have an idea of how you want the day to go, for example when people will turn up, when you’ll all sit down to dinner and open presents and what you’ll do afterwards. Let people know your plans for the day in advance and then there can be no confusion. Also be prepared to deviate a little from that plan, someone will turn up late, some of the food won’t cook in time. Its going to happen, why fight it? Just go with the flow, life very rarely goes exactly to plan.


Make sure you have something for everyone, you don’t want the kids running around the kitchen whilst your cooking dinner. Have games for them to play to keep them out of your hair, or a favourite DVD at the ready for them to watch. We all know that adults are kids at heart so make sure you have entertainment for them as well, a family game is the perfect way to make even the grumpiest of Scrooges get involved and takes attention away from any underlying tension, it also keeps potential ‘takeover’ family members as guests.


I’m not suggesting a sing along or anything to that affect, but music turned on softly in the background really does make all the difference. It enhances the mood, and makes the lull in conversation at the end of the day a lot less awkward. It doesn’t necessarily have to be Christmas music, but some background noise throughout the day will make transitions from dinner to evening smoother. Its a good way to get guests talking as well in any awkward silences by asking  them what track they would like to put on next.


Remember to show an interest in your family, it sounds an odd thing to suggest but we all get so caught up in our own lives that we forget to take notice of others. Ask how your family are, what have they been up to, what their plans are for the future, and just enjoy being with them. They may drive you crazy, but they are family so learn to appreciate their quirks, overlook their negatives and over accentuate their positives (it takes a lifetime of practise trust me) be patient and allow for the odd mishap in the holiday, enjoy who they are and remember all the good they bring to your life.

This may be the dream...but reality can be just as good


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