As if Christmas wasn’t stressful enough, we then insist on catching up with friends and relatives that we haven’t seen for ages, cramming them into a relatively short holiday period whilst also trying to enjoy some time off at the end of an exhausting year!

So, what can we do to make this easier for ourselves?


  1. Plan ahead – work out how much time you have off, when you finish work, what days are available to you and what actually needs to get done during that time i.e food shopping, present wrapping etc.


  1. Block out some time – in order for you to go back to work not feeling completely exhausted, block out a couple of days (more if possible) where you have no commitments and can just be at home, even if that’s pottering around the house tidying up, getting some jobs done, it’s essential.


  1. Include others in the household – If there are others living with you, check in with them about anything they might want or need to do, forewarned is forearmed.


  1. Communicating with family – once you know what you want to do, be very clear in your communication with other family members i.e “we’re really looking forward to seeing you this Christmas, we’ve got lots going on so shall we say you’ll come here for about 4pm on Christmas Eve?” Don’t say “shall we say teatime Christmas Eve” as that is open to interpretation, and you won’t know where you are.


  1. Boundaries – You HAVE to have boundaries in place in order to manage family gatherings. If people know what time they are expected, if they know when they are required to leave (“I thought we’d go for a nice walk on Boxing Day and then the day after that we are off to visit XX so we’ll have a lovely breakfast before you go”) it will make it much easier on everyone.


  1. Remember, if Aunty Ann doesn’t get on with cousin Paul – that is not your stuff nor is it your responsibility to act as a United Nations representative. If their relationship really affects others in the family and will spoil your Christmas, you do have a choice, don’t invite them and if they ask why, explain that you appreciate they don’t get on, that’s their stuff but you don’t want to deal with that at Christmas.


Sometimes managing family & close friends can feel really tricky, we don’t want to upset or offend and end up doing just that by not being clear when we communicate. Thinking ahead, thinking about the outcomes you want and need is not selfish, it’s good planning that enables everyone to have a nice time without anyone overstaying their welcome.