How to Survive Christmas with Your Family

By Naomi Smith | Saturday 23rd December, 2017

It’s the traditional Christmas scene that’s been the same since childhood; lying awake in bed on Christmas Eve, thinking about all the things that are going to happen tomorrow. Except as a child, we couldn’t sleep because we were excited and listening out for Santa’s sleigh. Now, we are up till 3am fretting and listening out for the faint sounds of the first argument of the season starting...

For those of us who have flown the nest, or rather ran screaming from the nest as soon as we turned 18, it’s a tough time of year. Returning to the family not just for a quick visit but a full week or so of intense family bonding time. Whether it’s your auntie asking how work is going even though they have no idea what you do, your Grandad making vaguely racist comments or your old sibling rivalries flaring up, everyone has something that winds them up on Christmas!


So I have spent December asking the same question to everyone I speak to; “What’s your advice to help me survive a family Christmas?” And here's what I've found:

Try to help with cooking as much as possible

At least offer, even if you don’t mean it. - Connor

Disappear and spend some time in your room if you need to

Just go watch Netflix when you start to get overwhelmed. On Christmas, we always feel guilty about wanting to be away from the family, but we shouldn’t because alone time is so important too. - Alice


That way you don’t have to talk to anyone. In fact, take part in any Christmas game where possible. As dull as they are, they’re a great distraction from small talk – especially if there’s alcohol involved. - Ella


Accept that everyone is going to revert back to their childhood roles.

Your big sister will become the bossy, game controlling nazi and your younger brother is going to throw a tantrum. Once you accept that the rules of adulthood don’t apply at a family Christmas, you won’t get as annoyed at each other. - Fran

Hang out in different settings

Spend time with each family member separately as well as all in a group. When things get tense, it's a good idea to get out of the house and go for a nice winter walk together. - Michael


...but not too much. - George

Try something ridiculous

One year I made everyone wear fake noses all day. Everyone felt too ridiculous for any arguments to start and we all just had a silly, fun day. - Ruth

Focus the attention on the kids

It’s easier when the next generation of babies are there. They diffuse everything. So I guess my advice is to take a baby with you? - Sam


Accept the new

Don’t try to force the old traditions and expectations you had at your family Christmas when you were a kid. Just because you used to watch the same movie every year doesn’t mean everyone still wants to. You can’t get annoyed if things change. - Pete

Avoid causing controversy

I once had an argument with a family friend who said that Stalin’s Soviet Union “wasn’t that bad”. So the moral is – don’t talk politics! Alternatively, eat so much that your mouth is always full of food at any given time. You can’t start an argument if you can’t speak! - Carey

If none of these ideas work for you, then just remember that having a family Christmas is actually a privilege that not everyone gets. Even though they might drive you crazy, you are lucky to be there and deep down, you know that there are so many positives to outweigh all the crazy.

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