Seven tips for surviving Christmas

For some, the festive season is a highly anticipated time of year for being with family. For others, it can bring a feeling of dread. Either way, here are a few tips on how best to cope with Christmas – especially handy if you’re of the latter.

1. Take five

There’s nothing wrong with ‘taking five’ if you find yourself becoming frustrated with family. Go for a short walk around the yard or the block, play with the kids for bit, or head to the kitchen and do some dishes. A little time away from the maelstrom will do you wonders.

2. Dealing with drunken relatives

When Aunty Betty’s on her fourth glass of red at three in the afternoon, or Uncle Max has quaffed his fifth eggnog by midday, it may be best to leave them to their own devices. Failing which, don’t engage them in political, religious or, heaven forbid, conversation about your team versus there’s. It’s like pouring lighter fluid onto a fire.

If you get stuck with a drunken relative who’s looking as if they’re about to crack, you have two choices for dealing with the situation. The first is to walk away. It’s often the simplest and best solution. Tell them you’ve got to check on the BBQ or that you need a glass of water.

The second is to ask them if they’d like a glass of water, or a walk outside. Sometimes a breath of fresh air can clear their head, and yours, whilst the water will help to sober them a little. Be subtle though, as the last thing a drunk person wants to hear is that they are acting drunk.

3. Count to 10

It’s an age-old device for dealing with stressful situations – and for good reason. If you find yourself irritated at a family member, slow your roll and count to 10. Once you’ve reached 10, breath in and release. If that doesn’t do the trick, then do it again. Responding impulsively or reacting harshly to a relative can really put a dampener on the day and this trick puts space between you and your reactions, giving you time to think about your words and actions before committing to them.

4. Don’t talk with your mouth full

The dining table is the place where everyone is captive to each other, so, if you find your blood bubbling at the conversation, or that watching your cousin eating with his mouth open is driving you to lunacy, just look down at your plate, put some food in your mouth, and chew.

Eating means you don’t have to speak, you don’t have to answer inane questions and it provides an ideal distraction from the goings on around you. If someone asks why you’re so quiet, just tell them you’re enjoying your meal.

5. Have a long shower, or two, or three

If Christmas day gets a little too hectic, then go and take a shower. It’s the best place to be for true ‘you’ time. You’re almost guaranteed of no interruptions, and the feeling of water hitting the back of your neck is sure to soothe and relax you.

6. Fake it ‘til you make it

The anticipation of opening presents can often result in disappointment, although most people at our age and stage aren’t too worried about what we receive, it’s more the thought that counts (isn’t it?). However, should you receive a gift that is truly terrible, for goodness sake, don’t let the giver know! Smile, tell them it’s a great gift, and say “thank you so much”.

Handy hint: Gift givers could provide receipts with gifts, so, should the receiver not actually like their present, they can return or exchange it without hurting the giver’s feelings. It may sound shallow, but it’s a win-win for everyone.

Oh, and if you don’t enjoy the food, just pretend that you do.

Handy hint: the trick is to take small serves, then go for seconds on the things you do like.

7. Decide on how long ‘yule’ stay

Before you arrive, decide just how long you intend to stay. Whatever time you’re thinking of leaving, tell your family a time one or two hours prior. It gives you an out should things get ugly.

This may all sound a little pessimistic, but the fact remains that Christmas is one of the most stressful times of the year. It’s safe to say, that even using one of these tips will get you out of a sticky situation and make for a more peaceful day.

Do you have any tips for surviving Christmas? Do you have any funny stories about dealing with a ‘challenging’ relative? Why not share them with our members?

Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca has worked in publishing and media in one form or another for around 25 years. He's a voracious reader, word spinner and art, writing, design, painting, drawing, travel and photography enthusiast. You'll often find him roaming through galleries or exploring the streets of his beloved Melbourne and surrounding suburbs, sketchpad or notebook in hand, smiling.