How To Survive Christmas With The Family

How To Survive Christmas With The Family

There’s nothing we look forward to more at the end of the year than heading home to spend some quality time with our nearest and dearest – until the 26th December, that is, when we’re ready to pack our bags and run back to the peace and quiet of our own homes. We asked the experts how to avoid World War 3 with the family.

Don’t Get Too Tipsy

Yes, Christmas Day might seem like the ideal time to get sloshed – you havent got work the next day, so pass the prosecco, right? But your family won’t appreciate your drunk musings at the table – or maybe it’s your parents who are getting on it and you’re cowering in the corner. Either way, we suggest everyone takes some tips from out Christmas party etiquette guide and pace themsleves by alternating alcoholic drinks with water to avoid unnecessary embarrassment.

Stay Civil With The In-Laws

Spending days on end with your other half’s parents is daunting at the best of times, but there’s just something about Christmas that piles on the pressure. “It’s really tricky when you’re in a relationship with someone and their parents are difficult people, but it’s also important to remember that conflicts within families is extremely common,” says Nia Williams, founder of dating and relationship service Miss Date Doctor. “You have to remember that you can’t force feelings, so just try your best to get along with them for just one day and, if necessary, set boundaries with yourself, such as agreeing with yourself that you won’t engage with those that treat you badly.”

Here are Nia’s handy tips to avoid a meltdown.

1. DON’T rise to the bait… Try to remain respectful even if your partner's parents are slightly difficult.
2. DO be complimentary and friendly… Despite the fact there are some underlying issues, it’s always best to be the bigger person.
3. DON’T bring up any sore topics… That may have caused problems in the past. Instead move forward with a subject  you might bond over.
4. DO try to be understanding… Everyone's parents are different- and often can be difficult. For your partner's sake,  try and bite your tongue and don’t rise to the bait.
5. DON’T drink too much… Enjoy yourself, but don't do anything which may cause the in-laws to judge you further.
6. DO walk away… If you feel you are being insulted. . Hopefully your partner will stand up for you calm the atmosphere.
7. DON’T badmouth your partner's parents to other family members… It might seem like something to bond over, but it might come back to bite you.
8. DO discuss  issues that bother you with your partner… In a non-confrontational manner. The key to a good relationship is communication.
9. DON’T sulk or be hostile to your partner's parents… Try to be the bigger person regardless of how they treat you.
10. DO give ALL family members gifts… Buy them something small  to show them that you have good intentions.

Avoid Dinner Table Arguments

Sure you love your mum, but she sure does know how to push your buttons – we totally get it. Avoiding bickering with family members isn’t easy, especially when that’s just how your relationship is, but avoid the aggro this year and start afresh with some advice from accredited hypnotherapist, psychotherapist and author Susan Hepburn, who says it is entirely possible to defuse familial tensions using a particular set of tactics.

First, she says, you should reflect on issues that have arisen in the past and try to think of ways in which you can deal with these better: “Preparation will make you less reactive and more equipped to cope with situations that arise.” 

Next, you need to think of kindness as a circle – what you give you’re more likely to get back. “Adopt an accepting and caring mindset towards the traits and habits of family members that wind you up,” Susan says. “Remember that the more generous you are, the more it will be reciprocated. If things irritate you, react calmly and rationally in order to keep the dynamics comfortable and demonstrate you’re the peacemaker – even if just for Christmas.”

Lastly, it’s important to remember you’re not stuck in that situation. Don’t all stay sat in the house all day, stewing in tension – take yourselves outside for a walk in the park, go for a drink or play a boardgame to diffuse any uncomfortable situations.

Swerve Those After-Dinner Political Debates

There’s nothing worse than debating politics with your politically divided family. “Political disagreements are often difficult but can be even more tricky if you are debating with close friends and family,” warns Susan. “If you're not careful, what started out as a simple conversation can quickly turn into a full-on row.”

So how do you navigate a conversation when you feel strongly about the topic? “When someone close to you expresses an opinion that we object to it's very easy to respond directly with, ‘That's ridiculous’,” says Hepburn.  "So it’s important to use markers of politeness, like 'perhaps' or ‘interesting point’, and show that you care about their feelings to avoid causing offense." 

Keep It Short And Sweet

To much time spent with anyone will make you a little mad, but an extensive period of time with the family will drive you up the wall. The best way to conquer it? Just keep the visit short and sweet - planning a route to hit all the relatives in the space of a few days means you'll never be in one place for long. 

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