Tips for surviving a family Christmas

It’s many people’s favourite time of year. But for many reasons Christmas can also be stressful and disappointing, especially when expectations – which are usually far higher than at any other time of year – aren’t met.

This year, why not try some of our family Christmas survival tips – you could end up having a happier and less stressful time, and even feel more refreshed than usual for the New Year ahead:

Plan your finances – If you’re still doing your Christmas shopping, you’ll know how easy it is to go overboard and spend more than you can afford. Before you spend another penny, sit down and set your budget. Work out how much you can afford to spend on each person on your gift list, and stick to it. You could even work with your family and friends to set a limit on how much you’ll spend on each other. Splashing out on expensive gifts could make people embarrassed, especially if they haven’t bought you anything expensive in return.

Be a thoughtful visitor – Staying with relatives may sound like a great idea, but it can often be stressful for the hosts. And if you like your routine, it can be very disruptive for you too. Why not consider visiting for the day instead, or – if you can afford it – booking into a B&B for a couple of nights.

Stay in touch – On the other hand if your friends or relative live too far away for you to visit them, try to remember to give them a call on Christmas day or say hello via Skype. According to Independent Age, the older people’s charity, staying in touch is important at this time of year, especially if you have loved ones who are going to be on their own. If you’re going to be alone yourself, look for community events you can take part in – find out what’s happening near you this Christmas by visiting the Community Christmas website.

Meanwhile if you want to tips on coping with Christmas family squabbles, the charity Explore has the following advice:

Grin and bear – it Try to set aside petty squabbles, and for the day at least resolve not to be drawn into areas that might cause a stir, be it a debate about politics or whether or not to watch the Queen’s speech.

Be prepared to enjoy yourself – This might sound obvious, but if you’re dreading spending time with family, you almost certainly won’t enjoy it. Think about what you can do to get along better with those you are generally less keen on.

Pace yourself – If spending time with your family is really stressful for you, then agree to limit the time you commit to spend together, if at all possible. Plan ahead so you have other places to go, and let all parties know your plans in advance, so you don’t have to abandon ship before time and face recriminations.

Don’t try to drown it in booze – While it may be sorely tempting to get stuck in and drown out family squabbles by hitting the bottle early, remember that this rarely solves anything and alcohol-induced arguments are all too common.

Keep yourself occupied – The best way to avoid the bust-ups is to keep busy. This may mean choosing to do the chores and being the one to peel the spuds, stir the stock, lay the table, recycle the wrapping paper. The person who’s normally in charge of these chores will be very thankful that you’re lending a hand too.

One of the other drawbacks of a family Christmas is that just about everyone tends to eat more and drink more than usual. If you’re anticipating a spot of overindulgence this year, speak to your local Careway pharmacist before the festivities begin, and stock up on over-the-counter remedies for indigestion and hangovers.

Find your nearest Careway pharmacy by using our Pharmacy Finder.