Are fam­ily and friends com­ing to stay?

The Rep - - ROUND & ABOUT -

One some­times won­ders why there’s such pres­sure to so­cialise over Christ­mas. It’s pos­si­bly the worst time to crowd to­gether rel­a­tives who do not re­ally get along.

But since this is the time when fam­i­lies are able to get to­gether, what can be done to im­prove the ex­pe­ri­ence? What are the best ways to avoid ar­gu­ments and bad feel­ings?

What might you change so that what was an or­deal be­comes the best time ever?

Per­sonal space.

If guests are squeezed into smaller spa­ces than they’re used to (think four peo­ple crammed into a three-seater sofa to watch a movie of some­one else’s choice) and there’s nowhere to calm down or be alone for a while, emo­tions are li­able to run high.

It’s not un­usual for old pat­terns of let­ting off steam to re-emerge – sib­lings start pick­ing on one an­other, par­ents scold them as if they’re still chil­dren, ev­ery­one gets an­gry. It’s there­fore vi­tal to en­sure ev­ery­one has as much space as pos­si­ble. There are var­i­ous ways – any­one liv­ing near enough could go home to sleep, rooms nor­mally used for other pur­poses in the hosts’ house might be con­verted in the hol­i­days and the hosts might even con­sider giv­ing up their own bed­room to sleep else­where.

Also, in the nicest pos­si­ble way, hosts should en­sure their guests get out of the house at least once a day. The fresh air and open spa­ces will in­vig­o­rate the mood.

It should also be ac­cepted that there’s noth­ing wrong with some­one go­ing to read or lie down if they feel like it. It does not mean they’re an­gry, per­haps they just need some quiet time.

Fi­nances

If you opt for a “Se­cret Santa’ and all agree to limit the amount spent, guests can bud­get more ac­cu­rately. No one will be able to use money to outdo oth­ers and gifts will be val­ued for some­thing other than their price tag.

It also shares the fi­nan­cial load if ev­ery­one con­trib­utes to the Christ­mas meal and if guests are stay­ing a while to give each fam­ily a day for which they pro­vide all the food and see to the cook­ing and serv­ing of it.

Prob­lem per­son­al­i­ties

Try to iden­tify peo­ple who might sour the fes­tive at­mos­phere and take steps to pre­vent this. The long-suf­fer­ing host is ex­hausted from the self-im­posed ef­fort of mak­ing Christ­mas per­fect. Ev­ery­thing is great, but ev­ery­one feels guilty if the host is con­stantly work­ing.

You can avoid this by say­ing, ‘I’ll do dish washer duty while we’re here’ or ‘I’ll bring the gam­mon.’ In­clude the chil­dren so that ev­ery­one feels more equal.

Un­ex­pected guests

There’s noth­ing worse than a guest ar­riv­ing with a part­ner when the host was only ex­pect­ing one. Make sure the host knows ex­actly how many will at­tend, when they will ar­rive and when they will leave.

And if you feel stressed or an­noyed your­self, go out for a walk.

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