Friday, 21 December 2012

How to keep the peace at Christmas

Christmas is often depicted as a time for the family to all come together, sitting and laughing by a huge log fire after a perfectly cooked Christmas feast. In reality, however, Christmas provides a unique combination of family politics, judgemental in-laws and over excitable children, making it one of the most stressful times of the year.

However, it is possible to have a truly merry Christmas with a few simple adjustments and some forward planning. Here are our top tips to keep Christmas peaceful.

  • Look for problems that cropped up last year and work out how to avoid a repeat. For example, if your mother argued with your partner’s father last year, make sure they're seated at different sides of the table. 
  • Plan the day, going for a walk together or playing board games can keep everyone amused and avoids the awkward small talk that comes with sitting around all day. 
  • Choosing which side of the family to spend Christmas with can be one of the biggest stressors. Don’t feel guilty if you cant please everyone. Instead invite the other side for casual drinks a few days before to show you care. 
  • Staying with parents can return us to our childhood ways and ignite old problems or insecurities. Don’t rise to the bait. Take a deep breath, count to ten and you should hopefully feel calmer. 
  • Watch how much you drink. Alcohol magnifies every problem and will cause you to react in ways you otherwise wouldn’t. 
  • If your mother-in law thinks she knows how to cook the turkey better, or is all too quick to give out parenting advice, just smile and don’t let it get to you. She will be out of your hair in a couple of days. 
  • If an argument does arise, calmly say, “lets just enjoy today and discuss this tomorrow”, and try not to dwell on it. 
  • Pick your battles. Realistically you are not going to change Aunty Carol’s political views over dinner, so keep things peaceful by keeping your opinions to yourself. 
  • If it does get too much for you, make an excuse and go out for half an hour. Walk the dog or nip to the shops, you’ll feel a lot better if you can find some alone time. 
  • Don’t place too many expectations on your self. If the potatoes burn and the carrots are too raw, just laugh! People are more likely to remember the company and atmosphere than what they ate. 
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Relatives will like having something to do and the kids will enjoy playing 'waiter' handing out nibbles. 

Christmas has a habit of never going quite according to plan, but if you can relax, smile and appreciate the family time you can still have a merry Christmas!

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