Are family and friends coming to stay?
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.