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As Christmas is fast approaching, how can we best survive Christmas with our family?

Official Christmas festivities can be a battlefield, and effective strategies are useful for survival. I’m sure no-one’s Christmases are all terrible, especially at first. Realistically, things can become a little stressed at this time of the year for one reason or another so it pays to be prepared!

10 years ago, Julia Sweeney wrote a lovely personal piece in The Guardian entitled ‘How to survive family Christmas’.

Whether you X-ercise, X-plore, go see an X-hibit, watch Joe X-otic or play Xbox all day, enjoy your activity this fortnight.

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This fortnight’s article

The Survival guide to christmas
5 Tips for surviving your relatives this Christmas

So how do you cope with the family-related stresses and strains during the festive period? Here are our top five tips.

  1. Keep expectations of time spent with family hopeful but realistic – You may not be able to change your family’s dynamics, but at least be aware of how your family can affect your psychological mood state. Knowing the problems you might expect from particular family members makes them easier to deal with should they arise.
  2. Drink alcohol in moderation – Alcohol can be a double-edged sword so be mindful when drinking with family members. Alcohol’s disinhibiting effect can help facilitate friendly family interaction but drinking too much during family gatherings can sometimes lead to saying things that we later regret.
  3. Don’t take everything personally – The ability to step back from a stressful situation caused by a family member is a skill to be cultivated. If something really irritates or stresses you, think about what triggered the feeling, then try to let it go and don’t take it personally.
  4. Be assertive – Again, easier said than done but learning the power of how to be politely assertive and just saying ‘no’ when faced with family obligations over Christmas can pay big stress-free dividends. Learn how to set boundaries with family so you can experience the true joy of the festive season.
  5. Remember that relationships are the most important thing we have – All of us need to remember that the Christmas feelings of joy and happiness come not from the gifts, decorations, food and drink, but from our relationships with other people.

If these tips still don’t make it bearable, and all else fails, try having an orphans Christmas with a bunch of good friends who aren’t spending Christmas with their families either. 

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